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EFRIS will ensure VAT taxpayers pay their fair share of tax- says URA Boss

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayohttps://eagle.co.ug
Reporter whose work is detailed

John Musinguzi, Commissioner General, Uganda Revenue Authority has defended the enforcement of Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing System (EFRIS), saying Uganda has been losing around Shs4Trn annually in uncollected Value Added Tax and the new system will ensure that all VAT taxpayers pay their fair share of tax.

Musinguzi made the remarks while appearing before the Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), where URA had been summoned to respond to queries raised in the December 2023 Auditor General’s report.

Musinguzi’s remarks were in response to a question posed by Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) who tasked the Commissioner General why the tax body caused paralysis in the business community with the EFRIS to the extent of exposing President Museveni to a standoff with the traders at Kololo, a standoff he said caused embarrassment in Uganda.

Sseggona said, “I know you have been grappling with the issue of Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing System (EFRIS) and you know how far it has stretched us including attracting a major standoff between URA and our major collection points, the traders.”

“Would you like to use the platform of Parliament to tell us what EFRIS stands for and why it has become controversial lately and why such a matter couldn’t be resolved without escalating into strike and involving the Head of State who had to get into a standoff with the traders publically that embarrassed the nation? Is it work methods, is it misconception of it is sheer hate that people don’t want to pay taxes?” added Ssegona.

The Commissioner General attributed the standoff between traders and URA, on the tough penalties provided for in the law of enforcing EFRIS, which he said were high, but these penalties have since been waived and now URA has embarked on education and sensitization of traders across the country, adding that EFRIS is already being used by manufacturers, corporate companies and after the campaign with traders.

“The penalties for enforcement were quite high, so irrespective of what you are trying to sell without the E-receipt, the penalty was Shs6M. So, I think the toughness in the penalty and the toughness in the enforcement campaign caused this. However, following the meetings and guidance, we stopped issuing penalties and we went back to engagements and more sensitization. And this is what we have been doing for the last one month, we have stopped enforcement operations, we have educated and we have even waived the penalties that were issued to the new people who hadn’t easily understood EFRIS,” said Musinguzi.

According to URA, the standoff between Government and traders isn’t unique to Uganda, as the same opposition to EFRIS was witnessed in Tanzania and Rwanda and Musinguzi went on to reveal that after the traders adopt EFRIS, the system will be extended to all VAT taxpayers in Uganda.

“We have also checked the trends of all countries that have adopted this technology, especially within our environment-the East African Community. Tanzania has been using the same technology for more than 19years, Rwanda has been using the same system for more than 10years, even Kenya, when you are starting, there is always resistance, closure of businesses, there are standoffs, but as we explain and engage home, people understand that this system is good for them, it is good for the Government,” added Musinguzi.

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