The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has come out and expressed their concern on people currying out online businesses as they dodge taxes yet they make a lot of money as compared to physical traditional businesses.
Currently, in Uganda, there are a lot of online businesses and Ugandans have welcomed them since they ease their lives such ventures include the Uber, Safe Boda, Jumia, Taxify to mention but a few.
Ian Rumanyika, the Public and Corporate Affairs Manager URA on Tuesday said that online businesses which he termed as invisible economies make a lot of money but don’t pay taxes at all which is unfair to other businesses entities.
“This the time we also consider the digital space we are operating in, someone in China can operate and make transactions in Uganda, DHL will deliver the goods here not taxing them at all. So as URA we must put up intel that will be able to show us that someone has conducted a certain business so that we are able to tax them because it’s unfair for the physical traditional businesses to pay tax yet online businesses like safe Boda or Taxify don’t,” he said in an interview with watchdoguganda.com.
Rumanyika added that of all the online businesses it’s only Uber which has been a compliant to paying taxes but the rest have kept on dodging them.
As a way of curbing the habit of digital companies dodging taxes, URA has put up a team of professionals who will be studying the digital economy to tap those exempting themselves from paying taxes.
“This team is going to analyse and use data to inform us about who is conducting the business so that we can bring them to book and make sure that they are compliant. This team is working day and night so that we can cope up with the technology. So far we have registered every business that is online in the tax registration book,” he added.
He, however, said that as they struggle to ensure that no online businesses stop dodge paying taxes, the legislative arm must also come on board and help them in the changing the tax polices.
“This is a bigger challenge beyond the taxman because policies also need to change. The current polices say that for one to register for Value Added Tax (VAT), he/she must have a place of work but here we are talking about the businesses that are operating in the space, so this policy will not support taxing the digital company, so we need also the support from the Parliament to put a policy on taxing the digital or invisible economies,” he said.
However,Ricky Rapa Thompson, the Co-founder and Director of SafeBoda, said that URA has failed to approach them but has continued preaching the gospel of how they have failed to pay taxes.
“Currently safe Boda offers services like buying airtime and safe foods all these services we are trying to create more job opportunities to Ugandans. For-example the old mamas cooking food in downtown how does URA tax them? But when we brought them on board and start supplying us food as Safe Boda, now they can be taxed, But URA has not come to us, we need to seat and talk with them,” he said.
Rapa said that he has never dodged paying taxes but URA has not put up a standard system which all online businesses can follow.
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