Many taxpayers have fallen prey to dubious persons who masquerade as tax agents and purporting to be competent on tax matters.
Given the ‘briefcase’ nature of their operations, such “tax agents” cannot be easily tracked by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). Should falsifications emerge, the taxpayer is left in a maze of proving their business records while the agent remains at large.
This informed the government to set up a five-member committee to check the powers of the self-regulated tax agents. The Tax Agents Registration Committee (TARC) established by Section 7 of the Tax Procedures Code Act (TPCA).
The five-member committee chaired by the URA Commissioner General, a representative from the accountancy profession nominated by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda, a legal profession representative nominated by the Uganda Law Society and two members from the private sector with expertise or relevant experience in economics, finance or taxation appointed by the board of URA.
The composition of TARC is in such a way that there is equal representation and fairness in addressing all matters.
Thanks to this committee, we have seen quality declarations made for tax purposes and taxpayers have since been protected from dealing with quack tax agents. The committee is responsible for the handling of grievances that may arise from the conduct of tax agents.
The other role mandated for the TARC are amendment of tax agent registration details, cancellation of tax agent’s registration should they breach their mandate and also propose policy changes to existing laws in the administration, mandate and processes of tax agency.
A person (individuals or non-individual), who wishes to be a tax agent, must be a compliant taxpayer, who is dutiful to their tax obligations because an attachment of a tax clearance is required during the application process.
A degree or post graduate award in a discipline relevant to the provision of tax agent service, a course in taxation and a practicing experience of two years, in full-time tax practice in five preceding years is another requirement.
This process of applying to be a tax agent is easy and clear, the application for tax agency is done on the URA web portal and interested persons should log into their portal account, fill in the valid application form and submit it along with the mandatory requirements, which include copy of professional certificate, i.e. practicing or membership certificate and copy of academic certificates on the completed application, proof of payment of a non-refundable application fee of Shs200,000, profile of applicant and nominee (experience and works done), copy of identification card for individual applicants and nominees.
Taxpayers especially those whose turnover is above Shs500 million, are advised to get services of an approved tax agent as recommended in the Tax Procedures Code Act.
Taxpayers are further advised to appoint only those agents (Customs/DT) who have been licensed by URA and these can be identified by visiting the URA web portal through the taxpayer account.
With the regulation of tax agents, taxpayers can be certain of an over-seeing authority that will protect them from deceitful middlemen by appointing only those that are fully registered and recognised by URA.
Mr Ian Rumanyika is the acting assistant commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs at Uganda Revenue Authority