It’s intriguing! It’s ridiculous! Yes, our honourable members of parliament want to insulate themselves from paying taxes.
Recently, parliament passed the Income Tax (Amendments) Bill, 2016 with a sole aim relieving legislators from tax on allowances.
In terms of figures, the bill means that instead of taxing an MP on his or her consolidated pay of nearly Shs25m, Uganda Revenue Authority will tax only Shs2.6m per month as salary.
But still our MPs argue that are paying ample taxes. And the country will be losing more than Shs41.58b in additional revenue.
MPs who are driving the bill say that “pass the budget until we are sure that our amendment to Income Tax Bill has been concluded” and “in case the President does not sign the Bill, it will still come back to the same people in Parliament. These are hard facts. We will still pass it without fear or favour.” This is sheer perfidy and self-centeredness from the men and women who we refer to as “honourables.”
American political scientist Harold Lasswell defined politics as “who gets what, when, how.” The move by our legislators serves to vindicate this thought. When we elect politicians, we trust them with the command to distribute and allocate the scarce national resources to society-not their personal pockets.
Tax policy is deeply political. Who pays tax, and how much they pay, is at the heart of politics itself. Now politicians are shamelessly telling us “they don’t want to pay tax” and “we should pay taxes.”
Really, after shielding themselves from paying taxes; do they have the moral authority to ask Ugandans to pay taxes? Do they have the moral authority to even pass any tax legislation-targeting the poor Ugandans?
We are heading to an upside down-regressive tax system-taking a much greater share of income from low- and middle-income families than from wealthy families. The system is indirectly contributing to growing income inequality by taxing low- and middle-income households at significantly higher rates than wealthy taxpayers.
Like our MPs, the rich don’t want to pay taxes
It’s not only members of parliament who don’t want to pay taxes. Just go to National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), you will be told horrendous stories of rich men living in posh houses who tamper with water maters. There is also a class of billionaire that president Museveni once in a whiles shields from paying taxes.
Ohhh! One more example-how about the huge multinational companies that exploit loopholes with in our tax systems to dodge taxation. It’s Panama Papers that showcased how Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd attempted to avoid paying $400m (£280m) in Capital Gains Tax to the Ugandan government.
Alas; if MPs and the rich gangs don’t want to pay taxes, why should I do so?