URA targets Shs48.1b assets held by Ugandans in Australia

Wednesday February 12 2020

Combat: According to Doris Akol, URA has

Combat: According to Doris Akol, URA has adopted a task force approach to combat tax crimes. FILE PHOTO  

By CHRISTINE KASEMIIRE

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has received information from Australia that Ugandans own assets worth $13.1m (Shs48.1b) in the country.

In a brief released last week, URA revealed it is re-enforcing its vigilance towards tax leakages propelled by off shore assets held by Ugandans.

“An initial report obtained from the Australian Tax office indicates that by September 2019, over $13.1m was held in various assets in Australia by person’s resident for tax purposes in Uganda,” the brief reads in part.

URA has enhanced the exchange of information facility to counter risks presented by globalisation, open markets and digitisation through worldwide exchange of information network.

The move seeks to facilitate investigations into concealment of incomes, tax base erosion by multinationals and country of origin fraud.
Currently, URA has retrieved $25.4m (Shs93.3b) through the platform.

In addition, URA has upgraded to the automatic exchange of information (AEO) mechanism, which holds a membership of 102 countries with the hope of accessing concealed transaction-level data and tax related information.

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Surpassed investigation targets
Domestically, URA, which had a target of investigating 40 cases, carried out 53 investigations, which culminated into a revenue yield of Shs29.6b.

“URA also adopted a task-force approach to combatting tax crime and related schemes. Through its intelligence function, it resorted to risk-based identification, assessment and investigation of broad threats to revenue mobilisation,” Ms Doris Akol, the commissioner general said last week.

Additionally, URA, in order to expand the tax base, is relying on third party information from Kampala Capital City Authority and the ministry of Education to identify potential tax payers.

Spreading the tax burden

Currently, the tax register has 1.5m people in a country with a population of over 40m people.
Resultantly, URA last year received records of over 22,000 landlords from KCCA that were previously not registered for Rental Income Tax, which grew by 13.2 per cent to contribute Shs56.8b to the treasury.
URA will also continue to work with local government as well as Uganda Registration Services Bureau to penetrate the informal sector which URA says accounts for half of the economy.
URA for the half year period starting July 2019 to December 2019 recorded a deficit of Shs697b after collecting Shs9trillion.

Efforts such as debt collection, prosecution and civil litigation aimed at achieving the target of Shs9.7 trillion set by government, which URA said was unrealistic.

The tax body recovered Shs623.2b which made up 6.8 per cent of the total tax collected during the period as a result of enforcement activities such as agency notices, arrears reconciliation and enforcing on bounced cheques among others.

URA for the second half of the year has a target of Shs10.4 trillion.

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