Masindi leaders urged to support URA in expanding tax base
MASINDI- Leaders in Masindi district have been asked to support the Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] in its efforts to expand the tax base in the district.
The call was made by Kateeba Kugonza, the commissioner tax investigation during the tax awareness and revenue mobilisation workshop held on Monday at Kolping Hotel in Masindi town.
“Let’s mobilise the people on the importance of paying taxes and its benefit. As leaders it is our role to do the sensitisation. Tell people to always pay tax in time because when they fail to do so, it affects government operations,” Kateeba told the leaders and businesspeople.
He further implored the leaders to always give information on the errant businessmen who don’t want to pay taxes, saying the country’s tax base is narrow.
He urged people to always consult URA in case they have challenges related to paying taxes. “In case you have some challenges try to reach out to us. It is your right to get services from URA,” he said.
He further warned the URA staff against mishandling taxpayers, saying they are the agency’s clients. “Don’t harass these people. Don’t be arrogant to them. Be good to them because you were put there to serve them,” warned Kateeba.
Kateeba also lauded Masindi district for being the best tax contributor in the region.
Businessmen speak out
David Byensi, the proprietor of Smart Start Industries said high taxes are driving people out of business. “The taxes are extremely high. Let’s build the country together by paying fair taxes. The taxes are chocking. They are very detrimental not developmental,” Byensi said.
He further called for tax holidays especially for start-ups, saying it’s bad to levy taxes on people who are still struggling to make profits.
“A good number of us here are beginners operating with high expenses here and there. We have big loans. When the business has just started there are no profits. At least we want to be given a tax holiday of 2-3 years. High taxes are pushing us out of business,” Byensi said.
He also asked government to always ensure that there is a social impact from the taxes collected.
Kahigwa Rujumba, a businessman from Masindi town decried the many penalties and the interests which are levied on them. “It’s our obligation to pay taxes. We consider ourselves as cows whom you milk but we are disgusted by the penalties. Waive off these penalties and interests such that we are able to pay taxes,” Kahigwa noted.
He also asked URA to widen the revenue base by tapping into other opportunities.
“Why don’t you tax those who sell cows. You find someone has sold 10 cows at Shs 4 million each but is not taxed. Let’s be fair to the people. Let’s not concentrate in the town centre only. Let’s go out and look for the cattle keepers also,” Kahigwa said.
Phionah Sanyu, the chief administrative officer Masindi urged URA to build the capacity of local government officials on the new digital tax collection systems, saying that her officials lack adequate knowledge on how to use the systems.
Simon Muyunga, the URA regional manager Mid-western region urged taxpayers to keep records of their transactions. “If you want to manage taxes well you need to do record keeping. Some of you under declare hence confusing us. For those who think you have issues there is room for discussion. You are free to come to our offices for settlement,” he advised.
The Masindi district LCV chairperson, Cosmas Byaruhanga said all eligible people should pay taxes if government is to deliver better services.
He however said that the taxation should be fair to avoid challenges. “There are some questions which need to be addressed such that the revenue base is expanded. People need to know why they pay tax, the type of tax to be paid, where to be paid and how to pay it,” Byaruhanga said.
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