By HOMELAND MEDIA TEAM
Uganda’s URA is hosting the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and Global Forum at the 1st ever-regional workshop on cross-border assistance in the recovery of tax claims.
The workshop taking place at Speke Resort Munyonyo was on Monday officially opened by Mr John Musinguzi – Commissioner General of the Uganda Revenue Authority.
Mr. Ibrahim Bboossa Kibuuka, the assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs told the press that the 32 countries convened to exchange but also to learn aspects of cross border assistance in tax claims.
“We have what we refer to as exchange of information where different tax administration’s like in Uganda the URA can make tax claims on a tax payer who has assets in different parts of the world and not necessarily in Uganda.”
He says this is possible because URA has no jurisdiction beyond Uganda’s borders by working through other tax administrators in those jurisdictions “because we are part and parcel of this global forum.”
Bboossa says there have been limitations for jurisdictions in Africa especially for them to be able to make claims of certain assets being held in different jurisdictions.
“So the purpose of this forum, which is the first of its nature, is for different jurisdiction to learn to share experience, and also to build capacity of how we can work together more favorably in exchanging information to ease claims on tax across our borders,” he said.
According to him, statistics that indicate about 10 million Ugandans generate income who are obligated by law to pay taxes but only 3 million people fulfil this.
Also, he says there are individuals (knowns as high net worth individuals) who have assets across borders and are still not making a contribution to the country.
“So this is one way where we can share experiences to see how other countries have been able to onboard people from the informal sector. That is formalization registration, how people have been able to educate their citizens in terms of tax collection, but also how people are going about the different regimes and laws across the border to help each other and become able to make a claim on these taxes.”
Bboossa is optimistic that URA will leverage the tax administration forum and the global forum to build capacity.
The African countries averagely collect 16% of their respective Gross Domestic Product. Uganda is not any different as it just hit the 14% tax to GDP mark.
Bboossa says that for a country to develop it has to be collecting above 18 to 20%.
Mr. Ephraim Murenzi, ATAF Specialist on Exchange of Information noted that both ATAF and Global Forum acknowledge that efforts by tax administrators in Africa to enforce domestic laws and recover relevant taxes but said that these efforts “cannot bear fruits unless there is enhanced cooperation through exchange of information and other administrative assistance in tax matters.”
Ervice Tchouata, the Senior Tax Policy Advisor said that: “We need to keep strengthening the exchange of information framework to enhance administrative capabilities so that administrators are well equipped to use these tools.”
URA boss Musinguzi, noted, “The time is now for Africa to rise to ensure we collect at least 20% of our GDP so we can take our citizens into space of self-sufficiency.”
“Here we are again to put our minds together to address the challenge that is beforehand of cross border mobility of financial assets which some noncompliant taxpayers are taking advantage of to shift capital from one state to another with no detection.”