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Monday, 17 December 2018
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Symposium on Current Developments In Tax Law, Practice and Administration for High Court Judges and Members of the Tax Appeals Tribunals, 1st - 2nd March, 2018

CONCEPT

Introduction

In a bid to improve its service delivery and achieve its objectives, the Uganda Revenue Authority carries out various engagements with its stakeholders to sensitise and have discussions with them regarding Uganda’s tax system. As such, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) in joint partnership with the Judicial Training Institute (JTI) agreed to carry out regular trainings and engagements with the Honourable members of the Judiciary regarding matters of taxation.

In this regard, the URA and JTI have successfully jointly organised annual trainings for the Honourable Judges, Members of the Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT), Learned Registrars, and Judicial officers of Magisterial ranks dating from 2010 to the recently concluded training for the Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal in June 2017. These trainings were aimed at training participants on the emerging trends in tax law, policy and administration, the oil and gas value chain, electronic transactions, crime and digital evidence, developments in International tax, Regional policies, administration developments and regional economic Integration among others.

Objective

Article 152 (1) of the Constitution provides: ‘No tax shall be imposed except under the authority of an Act of parliament.’ This Article grants Parliament exclusive powers to create taxes and prohibits any taxation but by an Act of Parliament. The executive is then tasked with the duty to assess, collect and account for the taxes imposed by Parliament. This is the role of the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development which is performed through Uganda Revenue Authority. The Judiciary and TAT on the other hand, performs the role of an arbiter between tax payers and the collecting agency of the executive.

The role of the judiciary and the TAT is to ensure that the intention of the Legislature in the taxing Statutes is achieved through consistent and informed interpretations. They must also impartially and expeditiously dispose of all cases before them. It is further the role of Courts to contribute to the realisation of tax compliance through development to tax jurisprudence and sanctioning of tax evaders while also having the insight to detect aggressive tax planning bordering on evasion. To do this, all judicial officers and TAT members must not only have a sound understanding of the tax laws of Uganda, but must keep themselves abreast with developments in tax jurisprudence here and in other international regimes.

The objective of this training is to provide a platform for exchange of experiences and best practices in the field of taxation and to further attempt to address the recommendations raised by the Justices of the Higher Courts. The engagement shall equip the participants with information and knowledge of Uganda’s tax system, the new developments therein and its effect on the country’s economic growth. It is further intended to generate a discussion on matters of best practices in domestic, regional and international taxation.

Following the most recent engagement with the Honourable Justices of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, a number of recommendations were raised these include;

  • A journal with full papers presented be made to sustain knowledge sharing.
  • Have a case study discussion of actual/real case issues involved and impact on URA’s future work.
  • Require more time for discussion of the topics handled.
  • Engage judicial officers of the Lower bench.
  • Balance interests to include Tax payers’ interests.
  • Involve the Civil Society Organisations as they are more on the ground and can share with URA the taxpayers’ grievances.
  • More interaction with the members of the judiciary. Make it bi-annual
  • Change delivery to suit adult learners.
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