By Marvin Ocol
URA’s revenue target for the second half of the FY 2021/22 inclusive of January 2022 is UGX 12,328.51 billion, which accounts for 55.13 percent of the annual target inclusive of the accumulated decifit for the period July-December 2021.
URA purposed to collect UGX 1,919.65 billion in January 2022, of which UGX 1,791.55 billion had been collected by by end January 2022 before final reconciliations.
Strategic Mitigation measures
For the remaining part of FY 2021/2022, the following reforms will be implemented to increase on revenue collections and tax to GDP ratio to 14.99%;
I. Alternative Dispute Resolution
To further encourage voluntary compliance, URA adopted the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to amicably resolve tax disputes with taxpayers.
Through the ADR mechanism, 3 (three) cases were amicably resolved outside the court process yielding UGX. 75.8Bn in revenue collected for the period 1st July 2021 to 31st December 2021, thus unlocking revenue that had been locked in some of the Court cases with some of our Large Taxpayers.
Cumulatively, a total of 15 cases have so far been settled through ADR ever since the initiative was introduced in June 2020, and URA has so far collected revenue of UGX. 285.8Bn and USD. 10.4Mn. This initiative has proved to be very effective in resolving long-standing tax disputes. In addition, it has further improved the relationship between the taxpayers and URA since the ADR is conducted in an unbiased, non-confrontational and cordial environment.
In addition, URA embarked on a cost-efficient service-centric approach by listening more to the concerns and being more responsive to clients concerns.
URA Commissioner General John Musinguzi says URA also encourage taxpayers to embrace the voluntary disclosure avenue by doing a tax health check and cleaning their tax account without waiting for penalties.
II. Strengthen the implementation of smart business solutions of Digital Tax Stamps and Electronic Fiscal Devices
According to Musinguzi, URA will implement approved structures to ensure sustainability and expand on the traced and tracked products beyond the current eight products (cigarettes, beers, sodas, water, wines, spirits, sugar and cement). Continuous engagement of the relevant stakeholders will also be conducted to reduce the current legal disputes and appeals. These solutions have grown the revenue contributions
from the VAT and LED tax heads. The key features of track and trace capabilities, real-time exchange of production and transaction data, simplified bookkeeping to enhance business monitoring, quick processing of refunds, access to information at a click of a button and a comprehensive view of the business.
“These are all efforts towards curbing illicit trade and eliminating uneven playfields for taxpayers,” he said.
III. Ensuring effective implementation of Domestic Resource Mobilization Strategy (DRMS)
Musinguzi says URA will continue to implement DRMS strategies like; leveraging information technology to implement the tax policy and administrative measures. This is in addition to improving and strengthening stakeholder relations and engagements with the private sector, Government Agencies, and external Revenue Agencies in order to leverage each other’s strength in achieving our mandate. The initiatives under DRMS are geared towards growing our tax to GDP ratio to 20.99% by FY 2024/25, thus growing the locally generated revenue contribution to the National budget and further reducing the National debt burden.
IV. Simplifying our key processes
Effective January 1, 2022, URA started issuing the instant Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) to individual taxpayers through an upgraded web-based application form. Simplifying processes like the TIN acquisition is URA’s new direction towards being a business enabler to improve tax compliance and improving service delivery with client-centric approaches.
V. Enhance the URA client service support
URA has improved and standardized contact centre service offering by providing 24/7 customer support through a multi-faceted approach.
On top of call centre, URA also introduced the Whatsapp and web chat available on the URA web portal and the URA Whatsapp number, 0772-140000. The AskURA app is also on IOS to enable Apple users to access the URA office at their convenience. These platforms extend self-help services to more persons, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises and all Ugandans both at home and in the diaspora.
VI. Mobile Tax office
In addition to the above, URA launched the mobile tax office in July to further intensify tax education and outreach services. To date, the Tujenge bus has combed the remote areas in Kamuli, Iganga, Mbale and Soroti, Kampala, Luweero and Nakaseke. For the period under review, the total number of taxpayers registered on the mobile office stands at 1,634, and of these, 1,583 are individual registrations while 51 are non-individual registrations. The mobile tax office is scheduled to reach out into the mid-western and northern regions before the financial year ends.
VII. Deepen Taxpayer Education
Musinguzi says URA will continue to demystify the tax regime to help all taxpayers understand tax. The needs-based strategy equips all our taxpayers with the relevant knowledge of their responsibilities, rights and obligations in revenue mobilization. In addition, we are expanding our awareness efforts with enhanced public outreach door-to-door outreaches together with the mobile tax to foster tax register expansion efforts.
In conclusion, Musinguzi says that the journey to Uganda’s economic independence is bound to find some hurdles.
Still, he says, “we are confident that the digitalisation of processes, enhanced stakeholder collaboration, strengthened sector-based tax education, client-centric approaches, and data analysis and optimisation will get us to self-sufficient status as a nation.”
However, Musinguzi says “We encourage taxpayers and the public to embrace these offerings and ease their compliance.”
“URA also pledges to continue supporting the taxpayers as we collaborate to develop Uganda together,” Musinguzi said.