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Government sued over MPs’ earnings

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MPs in plenary. Their income is under scrutiny for taxes

MPs in plenary. Their income is under scrutiny for taxes due since 2007. Photo by Geoffrey Sseruyange 

By Juliet Kigongo & Ephraim Kasozi

Posted  Friday, December 20  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

The complainant claims that much as the legislators’ pay is taxable, government bodies are doing little to effect this thus causing the nation losses.

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Kampala- A citizen has accused government bodies of failing to withhold, collect and pay taxes from the income of Members of Parliament.

In a case filed before the High Court in Kampala, Mr Francis Byamugisha alleges that all employment income of MPs should be subjected to Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income tax levy and is thus seeking an order directing Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to collect tax arrears since 1997.

Mr Byamugisha, who describes himself as whistle-blower, sued the Attorney General, Parliamentary Commission and URA for failure to pay and or collect taxes, respectively from the MPs.

He alleges that the failure to pay and or collect income taxes by the entities from the MPs has caused serious financial loss to the people of Uganda, including himself.

“These two entities (Parliamentary Commission and URA) are corporate bodies with the capacity to sue and to be sued under the administration of the Parliament Act and the URA Act,” reads the court document.

The spokesperson of Parliament, Ms Helen Kaweesa, on Wednesday said PAYE is levied on MPs’ basic salary.

“All taxable income is taxed here in Parliament and the Pay As You Earn for the MPs is remitted as required,” she told the Daily Monitor in a telephone interview.
URA publicist, Sarah Banage, confirmed Ms Kaweesa’s position. She also revealed that MPs’ allowances are not taxed. “But we are just implementers and the body to accuse is the ministry,” Ms Banage said.

An MP earns Shs2.5 million as basic salary but legislators take home between Shs15 million and Shs20 million when various allowances are consolidated in their package at the end of the month.

Mr Byamugisha now wants court to order for a calculation of all the taxes not collected from or paid by MPs off their total earnings.

The complainant also wants court to declare that the government bodies breached their respective statutory duties by not withholding, collecting and paying taxes due and to direct that the MPs’ entire employment income is liable to income tax.

He also contends that as a whistle-blower, he is entitled to 5 per cent of all the money due as income tax from MPs to URA.
jkigongo@ug.nationmedia.com