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EFRIS crisis shows Ugandans are fed up with parasitic state!

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EFRIS in full is Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution. EFRIS entails the use of Electronic Fiscal Devices (EFDs), e-Invoicing, or direct communication with business transaction systems to manage the issuance of e-receipts and e-invoices in accordance with the Tax Procedures Code Act 2014.

Once a transaction is initiated using any of the solution’s components, transaction details are transmitted to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in real time to generate e-receipts and e-invoices.

Section 73A of the Tax Procedures code 2014, provides the legal framework for implementing EFRIS. The provision provides for the commissioner to specify by a notice in the Gazette, taxpayers for whom it shall be mandatory to use EFRIS under the various business models i.e. Business to Business (B2B), Business to Government (B2G), Business to Consumer (B2C) in Uganda to issue e-receipts or e-invoices.

It is mandatory for all VAT registered tax payers to enroll on the system. To register for EFRIS, one needs a TIN and password to the TIN.

However, those outside this category are advised to implement EFRIS and take advantage of the various benefits.

Benefits of EFRIS!

According to URA, EFRIS helps to fast track the refund claims since the information is already available in the system; enables URA avail taxpayers with prefilled tax returns in future to minimize delays and costs involved in filling tax returns; prefilled tax returns will help taxpayers avoid penalties for late or non-filing

Other benefits are: Taxpayers will be in position to track and validate business transactions in real time for efficient business management. Proper bookkeeping and sales management, and the solution eliminates the risk of physical loss of tax invoices as transactional data or copies are digitally stored in the system; as well as Fair assessments of taxpayers’ tax positions which reduce unfair competition in business.

State parasite on tax payers!

Despite URA’s stance, there is concern that the Ugandan state has become parasitic in nature, only wanting to feed on taxpayers yet it has not done much to uplift local businesses, some of which have collapsed, posing a challenge in tax collection.

Arguments from traders

According to traders in Kampala, EFRIS facilitates double taxation given that most merchandise they deal in attract VAT, and therefore see no reason to enroll on the system. Double taxation is discouraged in tax administration.

Traders see EFRIS as an inconvenience to them and their clients, and therefore government must reconsider it.

 Analysts speak out on taxes and public expenditure

According to tax analysts, URA is insisting on EFRIS because they have failed to broaden the tax base and decided to impose more taxes on recorded taxpayers. The analysts say URA is desperate to raise more tax revenue to fund the big government, which include big parliament, and the big executive.

There is concern that public debt has increased partly because government must borrow domestically and externally to fund the big parliament, big executive, and the big public service sector, which has some employees doing nothing while earning billions of shillings in salaries and wages. Talk of ghost workers in government.

What must be done by government to entice Ugandans pay taxes

One of the suggestions is that the number of ministries and the number of members of parliament must be slashed since most of the money that URA struggles to get goes to these entities that are not even productive to contribute to gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.

Further, there is concern that the number of districts in Uganda which now stand at over 130 must be reduced by more than half. Most of these districts, analysts say depend on disbursements from central government as they don’t have their own sources of tax revenue to keep them afloat. The analysts claim most districts were created for political reasons as opposed to economic consideration, and thus why there is chaos when it comes to funding them.

The analysts say Uganda’s civil service is big for nothing given the existence of ghost workers that government pays. They say duplication of services must be stopped, and some departments, and ministries phased out. They say the civil service is not business-focused, as workers work for the sake of getting a salary, that is why departments meant to support local businesses are instead contributing to their death.

The public are not happy that a few people in the Cabinet, executive, parliament live a flamboyant lifestyle which depends on public money yet the citizens are languishing in abject poverty. The allowances and other emoluments allotted to serving and retired politicians must be checked. The analysts wonder why some departments and individuals in government have to depend on the public resources for accommodation, medical care, housing, security yet they get good salaries. All these discourage Ugandans from paying their fair share of taxes.

There is concern that however much Ugandans pay taxes, government officials keep on stealing the money. It is said government loses trillions of shillings to corrupt officials who have hid the money in real estate and land, thus impacting on service delivery. This is the reason the country still lacks enough schools, and health facilities, as well as medicines, and text books, or IT facilities in these places.

More so, tax analysts wonder why URA has failed to tax livestock, especially animals sold in big numbers. URA on its digital platform outlines how livestock can be paid but it is not implementing it. They should tell the public why not? Is it because it is the rich in this country that own the many animals that could be taxed when sold. Interestingly, there is also concern that Ugandans have to by animal vaccines for these same rich people that URA is shy to tax but is focused on taxing poor traders looking for school fees, and others that needed by their families not supported enough by the parasitic state!

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