CELEBRITY: Flavia-Tumusiime

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) plans to engage local Social Media Influencers (SMIs) on May 11, 2018 in Kampala as it spurs innovations aimed at collecting more taxes for national development.

URA’s new move comes at the time when it has been given a target of Shs16 trillion in tax collections for the financial year 2018/19.

In the current financial year URA is expected to collected just above Shs15 trillion as tax revenue, it’s not clear how much of that money has been collected so far as the country prepares for the proposed 29 trillion national budget to be read in June 2018.

Uganda has a narrow tax base, compared to its neighbours-Kenya and Tanzania that have much bigger economies.

URA seems now to use the narrow tax base to the maximum and targeting social media influencers is one of the strategies because they can create trends and encourage their followers to pay taxes or at least have a positive attitude toward paying taxes.

President Yoweri Museveni, in a letter dated March 12, wrote to the Ministry of Finance indicating there were a number of grey areas URA was not taxing yet they could generate revenue for the country. The proposed avenues included tax on social media and commercial buildings, according to the letter.

The SMIs represent a new type of independent third party endorser who shape audience attitudes through blogs, tweets and the use of other social media. By targeting this group, URA hopes they will help create a positive attitude within their fans which should translate to paying taxes now or in the future.

Uganda’s SMIs range from media personalities, comedians, musicians and writers, with some having over 50,000 followers.

But the services of SMIs are not free, URA will have pay for every tweet, at least that is how the so-called hi-tech gurus are paid.