GOVT PROPOSES TO AMEND TAX PROCEDURES CODE WITH MORE POWERS FOR TAX COLLECTORS

By Our Senior Reporters

In a move that legal experts say will be challenged in courts of law , the Ministry of Finance is proposing to parliament more powers for Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to deal with people who are persistently in default of their tax obligations .

The new Tax Procedures Code (Amendment Bill,2021 ) seeks for parliament to amend the law and introduce a procedure empowering the URA Commissioner General  to arrest  or temporarily close businesses while conducting investigations for tax matters .

The Commissioner  General if parliament allows him/her to have their way , will have powers to record a charge and a caution statement and also execute bonds for the arrested accused persons . But legal experts say that such powers are unconstitutional because the tax body will be the investigator , prosecutor and  judge at the same time .

“We hope that parliament thoroughly studies the machinations by the tax body and come to the conclusion that such unlimited powers  basically tend to bypass courts of law and other constitutional  investigative arms of government are not fair  and will certainly  be challenged in the  Constitutional Court ,” a seasoned lawyer told leading on-line publishers – ugandaupdatenews.com

The tax body is under a lot of pressure to raise revenue in taxes after persistent poor performance in revenue collection where it has not met its targets for many years largely due to corruption  that led President Yoweri Museveni to sack many of its senior officers and appoint new office holders.

Tax experts have argued that URA must be innovative and expand the tax base by bringing in the tax bracket -many Ugandans who are not paying taxes. “The idea of over -taxing the same small group of tax complaint Ugandans -in will not work in the long run. URA should reach out to as many people to  meet  their tax obligations and thus increase the tax revenues,” the Tax Experts argued.

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