Religious clerics across different faith groups have expressed their concern and dissatisfaction following an order by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to start paying taxes on Bibles, Qur’ans, prayer and hymn books.
In a letter dated 19th April 2018, the URA commissioner general, Ms Doris Akol termed the practice of not taxing religious entities and materials as an ‘anomaly’.
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has ordered religious groups to start paying taxes on Bibles, Korans, prayer and hymn books.
Clerics across faith groups yesterday reacted to the proposal with consternation and disbelief, insisting the religious materials should be tax-exempt since they use them for “spiritual nourishment” of Ugandans.
However, the URA commissioner general, Ms Doris Akol, disagreed, saying the practice of not taxing the entities and materials was in the first place ‘an anomaly’. “We understand that Value-Added Tax (VAT) has in the past not been paid on the said Bibles, prayer books and hymn books. This was an anomaly,” she wrote.
Ms Akol was responding to a petition a month earlier by the Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali.
The prelate had asked the tax man to release a consignment of 9,120 prayer and hymn books imported from Nairobi, Kenya, without the church having to pay VAT.
In his March 18 letter, Archbishop Ntagali noted that items had been shipped in by Centenary Publishing House Limited, Church of Uganda’s (CoU) publishing arm, which in his view should be tax-exempt.
However Ms Akol said she had no power to waive a tax not excluded under the law and, as such, URA released the consignment only after CoU paid Shs8.9m.
Mr Joshua Kitakule, the secretary general of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, an umbrella body of different faiths, yesterday said whereas religions should not entirely be tax-exempt, imposing 18 per cent VAT on Bibles, Korans and prayer books would be “erroneous”.
Mr Ramathan Mugalu, the secretary general of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, said that President Museveni had said all imported prayer materials that are not for sale should not be taxed.
The government has also proposed to impose new taxes, including on social media users in the next Financial Year as Uganda struggles to wean itself off donors.
Source: www.mknewslink.com a greater western Uganda news website