As the financial year comes to a close, the pressure on Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to bridge the revenue collection shortfall is at its peak. Today, the revenue body released a list of 178 tax defaulters whose unpaid arrears total 25.8billion Uganda Shillings.
According to Abudu Salaam Waiswa, the URA Debt Collection Manager, “these are taxpayers whose arrears have accumulated overtime but have remained defiant to settling their tax liability despite several reminders to pay up.”
Allen Kagina, the URA Commissioner General, last month had warned that they would publish a “shame list” to recover unpaid taxes.
The list which includes companies and individuals is the first in this financial year as URA seeks to at least reduce the revenue shortfall currently at 470billion Uganda Shillings. The top defaulter, Rio Holding International has unpaid taxes totaling 5billion Uganda Shillings. The Uganda Printing and Publishing Company Limited, a government owned printer, also has arrears of 2.3billion Uganda Shillings. Linksoft Communications also has arrears in excess of 1.5billion Uganda Shillings. There are some high profile individuals with tax arrears, among them is city lawyer Bob Kasango, with about 350million Uganda Shillings in unpaid tax arrears.
“The list also names 20 Ugandans who drive expensive cars, but without any history of payment of Income tax and as such, their incomes remain unknown to URA,” the statement from URA reads.
URA has said it has given the individuals on this list up to 7days to clear these tax arrears. If the arrears are not cleared, then the tax body may close the business premises, seizure of their property as well as personal property or face prosecution for not paying taxes.
In the 2012/13 Annual Office of the Auditor General Report, it raised the red flag on various Memoranda of Understanding between URA and various tax payers. It noted that between 2011/12 and 2012/13, tax arrears had increased from 8.1billion Uganda Shillings to 37.1billion Uganda Shillings.
In the “shame list” released today, some of these companies that have failed to meet the agreements in the MOU have been listed.
“We urge all tax payers to be compliant and to keep engaging with URA to avoid being embarrassed and inconvenienced in their businesses,” Abudu Salaam warns.