The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has exceeded its targets for the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year with a net surplus of 353.67 billion shillings for the month of August.
The Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs, Vincent Seruma said Thursday that domestic taxes registered over 100% target while customs stand at 98%.
“We have been able to achieve the URA target for the first quarter (July, August and September). In domestic taxes, we have achieved over 100% and for customs, we are at about 98%. But overall, we have already exceeded our quarterly target,” said Seruma.
“For the month of July, our net surplus was 278.16 billion shillings and for the month of August, it was Shs 353.67 billion. For the first quarter, we have been able to exceed the targets,” he added.
Seruma attributed the achievement to a number of reasons including information management and data analytics, internal reorganisation of URA staff to ensure they are given an opportunity to be in positions where they can be more effective among others.
Seruma also announced a growth in the VAT collectable on imports mainly in the category of products such as palm oil which has grown by about 58% while motor vehicles, electricals and petroleum oils registered a surplus of about 1.4% VAT on imported goods for the last two months.
The petroleum duty has registered a positive growth in fuel of import volumes by 15% for the months of July and August. This can partly be explained by the fact that the easing of the COVID-19 lockdown has provided more movement of cars which has in turn led to the increase in consumption of petroleum products.
In terms of domestic tax, there has been general growth in the withholding tax particularly with the general supplies that have contributed about 12 billion shillings.
Digital Tracking Solution
Since last year, URA has been implementing a digital tracking solution to among others; fight counterfeits, guarantee quality of products that come to the market, fight tax evasion by manufacturers.
“Counterfeit was estimated to be causing a lot of revenue loss. It was very highly prevalent in beer and beverages sector and such companies were severely affected. If you realise, in Uganda, we had so many small companies making gins of all sorts, which were not on the register.”
Since the introduction of digital tracking solution, Seruma announced, about a total of 175 companies have been registered. They include; 7 in the categories of beer, 67 in the water sector, 54 companies dealing in spirits, 6 companies dealing in soda, 17 companies dealing in wines, 1 company dealing in tobacco and 23 importers.
As a result, he said there has been a surplus revenue growth in local excise duty as well Value Added Tax (VAT) in the months of July and August.
“We have also seen that the level of declarations especially in the beverages sector and beer sector has gone up. As URA, we had not registered this performance over the last 3 years,” he said.
In this process, he noted that 20 new manufacturers that used to operate informally and unknown to URA have been identified and registered for tax.
In addition, 34 of the 175 manufacturers registered a growth of 6 billion shillings in excise duty, 26 manufacturers registered a growth of about 14 billion in VAT while 4 importers registered a growth of 439 million shillings in VAT revenue.
“We have seen an additional 975 million shillings in excise duty recovered as a result of enforcement actions triggered by non compliance with the DTS (Digital tracking solution) requirement.”
Seruma attributed this achievement to the fact that registered manufacturers are able to know the level of manufacturing and also protected from the illicit traders.
Meanwhile, URA is calling on the public to voluntarily disclose their tax position. A tax payer can disclose their tax position if they have any unpaid tax and once they disclose to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, then such a tax payer will be exempted from paying the penalty or the interest that may have accumulated.
Seruma said that tax payers should disclose their tax position because the URA is much aware that the COVID-19 crisis affected many, adding that if they took advantage of voluntary disclosure, it would save them a lot in terms of unpayable taxes and fines.
“In that regard, we would like to say that this is an opportunity for the tax payers to take advantage of,” he said.
If tax payers turn a deaf ear on the initiative, Seruma said, it will come with a cost on their side because by the time URA came to a point to promote voluntary disclosure, it had already done an internal assessment and noted areas of gaps such as illicit invoicing, so, the Authority already has information on the potential candidates for its audit plan in the year 2020/2021.
“So, if you don’t disclose, we already have our list where we can go and audit, investigate or even ask for information or do a tax advisory or send you a notice for tax or a tax query or even conduct a compliance visit. Once we conduct any of those, then such a tax payer, if he has not voluntarily disclosed by that time, will not be eligible for benefiting from voluntary disclosure initiative,” said Seruma.
To date, he announced that many companies have welcomed the initiative, adding that since its inception, 16 billion shillings have been disclosed and paid to URA.