Government has distanced itself from claims that Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has ordered religious groups to start paying a new form of tax on bibles, Qu’rans, prayer and hymn books.
Appearing before parliament plenary on Tuesday, Hon David Bahati said there will be no such tax as this would mean “standing in the way of spreading the word of God.”
On Tuesday still, a document sent to UG Christian News by an official from URA revealed that contrary to media reports, an Act before parliament to amend the Value Added Tax Act, Cap. 349; seeks to provide for among others withholding tax on the supply of Bibles and Qu’rans.
Endorsed by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mr Matia Kasaija, The Value Added Tax (Amendement) Bill, 2018, if enacted, shall come into force the next financial year.
URA says the current legal provisions call for taxes on religious books.
“The bill to exempt religious books from the tax in subject was brought on table, and it highlighted well intended points like they [religious books] foster morality, increase spirituality, and withholding tax, will in turn mean they will become more accessible to the general public,” an official from the tax body told this website.
“URA does its job of collecting taxes as per the law, which currently provides for the taxation of religious books. Our mandate is to assess, collect and account for Central Government Tax Revenue and to provide advise to government on matters of policy relating to all revenue sources,” the source added.
In one incident, a local news daily reported that one top cleric urged that to his knowledge, Church of Uganda’s publishing arm, Centenary Publishing House Limited should be tax-exempt.
The source, responding to this report said that Centenary Publishing House Limited does not feature among the firms exempted from Tax and VAT [Find the document Here]
There is legal procedure through which a given firm or service provider is exempted from Tax, the source said, they have to submit an application to the tax body.