Hoima banks on rise in properties to realise tax targets

Government is working on ways to increase local government revenues. Photo / Alex Ashaba 

What you need to know:

  • The initiative is part of a plan to enhance local revenue mobilisation among local governments in the next five years 

Authorities in Hoima City have said maxim compliance will be key in ensuring that the city realizes its targets under property rates. 

The city, which is considered as one of Uganda’s tourism capitals, approximately has 7,220 commercial properties, from which it will seek to mobile at least Shs1.5b from property rates. 

The initiative is part of a plan to enhance local revenue mobilisation among local governments in the next five years.

Mr Brian Kaboyo, the Hoima City Mayor, said in an interview that the valuation exercise, which was completed in February, identified around 17,200 properties within the city, of which 7,220 were categorised as having a commercial element.

Therefore, he said, the above properties would be key in supporting the city to increase revenues from property rates by almost 750 percent. The city had previously been collecting under Shs200m.  

“The mapping of all properties serves as a database for future reference. Residential properties may be converted into commercial properties in the future, and the mapping ensures they are included in the property rates register when such changes occur,” Mr Kaboyo said.

The 7,220 commercial properties is a significant increase from just under 2,000 properties that were previously on the city’s property rates register. 

Hoima is among the 10 cities, including Mbale, Mbarara, Jinja, Arua, Fort Portal, Masaka, Gulu, Soroti, and Lira, where government is mobilizing support infrastructure to increase property tax collections in the next five years. 

Since 2022, government has, together with other stakeholders, mapped and updated existing property valuation registers to boost local tax collections under the Domestic Revenue Mobilisation for Development strategy.

The mapping process, already completed in some cities, has been followed by sensitization efforts targeting property owners, particularly in Hoima City, as part of the ‘Services and Fair Tax for Property Owners’ campaign organised by RippleNami with the support of USAID’s Domestic Revenue Mobilisation for Development activity. 

The initiative seeks to strengthen dialogue and engagement between administrations and property owners to reinforce the social fiscal compacts related to service utilisation.

Property rates represent a significant revenue stream for local governments, with at least 85 percent of the proceeds invested local government projects such as road and drainage construction and maintenance, street lighting fees, and security enhancement.

Residential and owner-occupied properties are exempted from property rates. 

However, the Local Government Finance Commission has previously recommended amendment of the Property Rating Act to remove exemptions of owner-occupied properties, since such properties make up more than 60 percent of the properties in urban councils and benefit from services funded by others. 

The Commission said it had proposed a flat rate ranging from Shs100,000 to Shs200,000 per year.