URA Stops Masaka Municipality from Closing Trader's Shops

2911 Views Masaka, Uganda

In short
Edward Gwavu Kiwanuka, the Deputy Town Clerk Masaka Municipality, says they have already sensitized the traders, adding that some of them just reluctant to pay taxes.

Uganda Revenue Authority-URA has stopped Masaka municipality from closing shops over none payment of taxes. 

Early this month, Masaka Municipality announced plans to close several shops for nonpayment of trading license fees, income tax and Rent tax.
The municipality issued notices giving all traders up to December 23rd to clear outstanding fees or face closure. More than 300 traders are affected by the municipal directive. 

The threats triggered protests among the affected traders, saying they are overtaxed. They accused the municipality of imposing on them the income and rental tax without evaluating their businesses fully. 

Currently, the municipality charges between Shillings 100,000 and 600,000 in rental fees while the traders are compelled to pay between Shillings 50,000 and 150,000 in income tax.
The traders petitioned Mathias Mpuuga, the Masaka Municipality MP seeking his intervention in the matter. As a result, Mpuuga invited both Masaka Municipality and URA to educate the traders on income and rental taxes.

During the meeting, James Odong, the Assistant Commissioner in Charge of Local tax in URA, said although it is okay for the municipality to collect the taxes, it is illegal to close shops. Odong asked the municipality to find the tax defaulters as opposed to closing their shops.

He explained that closing shops is illegal because it closes the source of income for paying taxes. Odongo tasked Masaka municipality to carry out a fresh evaluation exercise before taxing the traders. Hajj Musa Mutuba, another trader said he was being asked to pay Shillings 150,000 in income tax on top of Shillings 120,000 shillings for the trading license. 

He also pays Shillings 300,000 in rental tax. According to Mutuba, this kind of taxation if simply meant to chase him from business. Mathias Mpuuga, the Masaka municipality MP, says many traders are unhappy with the new income and rental tax regime.
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But Edward Gwavu Kiwanuka, the Deputy Town Clerk Masaka Municipality, says they have already sensitized the traders, adding that some of them just reluctant to pay taxes.
Kiwanuka says the delayed payment of the taxes has impacted on service delivery. According to Kiwanuka, the municipality wants the traders to clear their outstanding tax obligations before close of the year to enable them plan better for New Year. 

Currently, Masaka municipality collects Shillings 1.8 billion out of the project Shillings 2.3 billion annual local revenue.


About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.