More than one-third of the districts in Uganda did not have a compliant taxpayer last year, according to the latest list of compliant taxpayers issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority.
The list has 86 districts chosen from the 125 districts which were in existence five years ago during the mapping exercise. The ranking is part of the activities under the URA’s annual Taxpayer Appreciation Season aimed at enhancing compliance and boosting domestic revenue collections.
This year, the appreciation season is running from October to December 2020, under the theme ‘Celebrating the Taxpayers of Uganda’, which will see the tax body award the most compliant taxpayers. There are also summits planned featuring experts who offer customized business solutions for business survival beyond COVID-19, to support the long-term goal of becoming self-sustaining.
URA says that in line with the 2020 national theme; ‘Stimulating the Economy to Safeguard Livelihoods, Jobs, Businesses and Industrial Recovery’, it will offer free online business development and survival seminars dubbed “Bomba Ya Business”.
The URA is currently contributing 47 per cent of the national budget, while the total revenues collected annually amount to just 14.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, compared to the African average of 18 per cent. This low collection levels have seen Uganda’s high reliance on external budget support persist, continuously pushing up the debt burden.
But the Economic Policy Research Centre Chief Executive Officer Sarah Ssewanyana says the government must have an all-inclusive rescue program that does not leave out small enterprises if the capacity of Ugandans to pay more taxes is to be built.
The taxpayers’ appreciation season will also be characterised by profiling the top 10 most compliant taxpayers per district, top 50 compliant taxpayers by region, and the top 15 at the national level.
The most compliant are picked from a database, premised on their consistency and voluntary compliance in honouring their tax obligations and continued growth over the last three years. Some districts do not feature on the list because five years ago while mapping taxpayer registration, they were not yet created.
Those that had the 10 included Arua, Bushenyi, Gulu, Jinja, Lira, Kabale and Kampala.Others are Kasese, Mbarara, Mityana, Mubende, Mukono, Ntungamo, Soroti, Tororo and Wakiso districts.
The Manager, Public and Corporate Affairs at Uganda Revenue Authority Ian Rumanyika says that in many eligible districts, none could be considered compliant, while many others have less than the 10 that the URA was looking for.
The finance ministry set a revenue collection target of 19.7 trillion Shillings for URA after revising it down from 21.8 trillion Shillings due to the effects of the covid 19 pandemic on the economy, and down from the 20.3 trillion Shillings collected in the previous year.