URA Commissioner General Doris Akol says paying taxes is painful but necessary

Doris Akol should be the happiest Ugandan in the year 2018, having given birth to a pair of twins in September and now the birth of the twins been welcomed by government by way of reappointing her as Commissioner General (CG) of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) for the second term.

Doris Akol, who hitherto served as the commissioner for legal and board affairs in the URA before she took over from Allen Kagina on November 1, 2014. Kagina is now the Executive Director of the National Roads Authority (UNRA).

Under Akol’s stewardship, URA has seen improved tax administration, promotion of transparency and consistency. Looking forward to a continued efficient working relationship with you.

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Over the period of the past four years, revenue collection has consistently grown. In this period, the total gross revenue collected has exceeded Shs48.7 trillion (an average of over Shs12 trillion per annum) or Shs1 trillion per month.

URA’s revenue collection target for the 2018/19 financial year is Shs16 trillion, even though some shortfalls have already been realised.

Meanwhile, URA has reported first quarter of the 2018/19 financial year collections of Shs103 billion from mobile money tax but the figure is Shs48 billion short of the targeted Shs151.5 billion.

Mobile money tax was alongside the over-the-top (OTT) services was introduced on July 1, 2018 following the introduction of the Excise Duty amendment Act by government. Taxes collected between July and September indicates that the authority collected Shs103 billion from the 1 percent mobile money tax imposed on users of the service before the president clarified and reduced the amount to 0.5% though he has not accented to the Amendment Bill.

Speaking to the press, URA publicist Ian Rumanyika, while referring to the revision of the tax from 1 per cent to 0.5 per cent, said that it could have been the reviews and debates on the tax that affected their collections.

He said the 1 percent tax was in full effect, on both withdrawals and deposits, the authority registered more collections but in the last days of August and September when the president said only withdrawals should be taxed, there was a decline.

URA says for the month of July, the one per cent charge on mobile money contributed Shs22 billion while the Shs200 (daily excise duty on social media use contributed Shs4.3 billion. “With the new tax review from 1 percent to 0.5 percent, there is likely to be a major reduction of the URA collections in the second quarter of October to December,” Rumanyika told the press.

In August 2018, Bank of Uganda and telecom companies reported a sharp decline in mobile money transactions by a whopping Shs672 billion. MTN Uganda, in recent times reported a 30 per cent decline in revenue since the taxes became effective.