Sub-Saharan state Uganda has already banked Shs10.5 trillion within an era of 10 months and still expects the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to collect Shs2.9 trillion more by the end of 2017 financial year.
This was revealed by Commissioner General Doris Akol during the launch of the Tax Agent Registration Committee (TARC) at URA headquarters in Nakawa.
“The purpose of the committee is to licence and accredit the right kind of agents authorised to deal with the tax body on behalf of tax payers,” Ms Akol said during the launch of the TARC.
This is in compliance with the Tax Procedure Code Act 2014 that came into force in July 2016 to harmonise tax administration of the different tax types.
Among the changes brought about by the Act is the establishment of TARC. The members appointed by URA board of directors include; Ms Doris Akol, Mr Derick Nkajja, a member of the accountancy body, Mr Godfrey Akena, a representative from the legal profession, Ms Feddy Mwerinde and Ms Annet Nakawunde, representatives from the private sector.
Among its functions, the committee will establish a code of conduct and the minimum standards for a tax agent, register only those who meet set standards, review annual renewal of licences and cancel registration of non-compliant agents.
The current practice is that anyone who has knowledge on taxation acquires a client and does business with URA.
Ms Akol said this has created challenges that affect compliance.
“Because some of these people do not have the appropriate qualification, they do not have the appropriate experience, they are creating a problem for their clients, they engage in fraudulent transactions on behalf of tax payers without the knowledge of their clients,” she explained.
In addition, Mr Henry Saaka, the commissioner in charge of domestic taxes, said tax agents do not understand the businesses of their clients, those who know mislead them, manipulate records, deny URA tax payers’ information, advise clients to object and request to pay in installments and in turn cause clients to incur interest costs.
According to Ms Akol, the move will close the compliance gap caused by failure to understand complex taxation laws and lack of time.
“We find that a number of our clients are not meeting their tax obligations simply because they do not have the time, they do not have the knowledge on how to file returns. Therefore, bringing in an agent in the middle will enable them to comply in time,” she said.
More so, the operations of the committee will help URA weed out quack tax agents that create setbacks in tax collections. This should be able to protect clients and reduce unnecessary tax disputes.
URA expects to see higher levels of compliance in terms of filing returns. On average, URA receives 80 per cent of electronic tax files but hopes to see this percentage grow to 99 per cent.