DPP warns private sector players over tax evasion

People look at smuggled goods being destroyed in Kampala recently. URA now has the right to prosecute cases of tax evasion. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

Summarily. The prosecutor says such cases will be swiftly handled.

Kampala. Traders, manufacturers and the multinational companies will not be allowed to get away with tax evasion, the country’s public prosecutor has warned.
According to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Mike Chibita, cases that compromise optimum collection of taxes such as undervaluation, mis-declaration and false declaration, among others, will be disposed of swiftly and justly.
In an interview yesterday, principal assistant DPP Betty Khisa, who was representing the DPP at the prosecutors’ symposium, a brain child of Uganda Revenue Authority, said businesses and individuals that are involved in the said illegal activities will not be allowed to walk scot free.
“We have licenced Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to prosecute such cases and so far, they are doing a good job in that regard—prosecuting tax and related matters,” Ms Khisa said after officially opening the symposium in Kampala.
She continued: “Traders and the entire business community must know that once they get involved in illegal activities they will be dealt with accordingly.”
It emerged that every year, the tax body handles about 50 cases involving tax disputes and those that have been prosecuted normally end up being ruled in favour of URA because of what the URA prosecutors describe as water tight cases.
According to the URA commissioner legal services and board affairs, Ms Patience Rubagumya, the DPP’s contribution in enhancing revenue compliance cannot be underestimated.
She said the fact that DPP licences URA to prosecute tax and related matters is evidence enough of the latter’s support towards tax compliance.
As result of prosecuting tax related cases, URA has over the last three years recovered Shs21b in taxes and fines from noncompliant entities.
Ms Khisa said the mandate by URA to prosecute tax and related issues is because the DPP cannot handle all the criminal prosecutions in the country alone.
DPP’s powers are often exercised by others as mandated by the Constitution under Article 120 (4) (a) which provides for delegation of his/her powers.

Authorised agencies

Agencies or authorities such as Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Forestry Authority, National Water and Umeme are some of the institutions that have fully-fledged prosecutions department.
The prosecutors within these departments are, however, answerable to the Director of Public Prosecutions in matters of prosecution. They are issued with authority to prosecute by the DPP and must each year renew that authority.