On Monday, representatives from 18 countries under the African Tax and Administration Forum(ATAF) met at Sheraton Kampala Hotel to brainstorm on the application of Science in support of tax administration.
Hon. Henry Musasizi, the State Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development praised URA for adopting Science as a transformation service to Uganda ‘s economic independence. The Science focus, he believes is what has driven growth in revenue mobilisation initiatives resulting in positive revenue figures. He noted that in the recently concluded financial year 2021/22, URA mobilized UGX 21.6 trillion and also exceeded the target for quarter one of this financial year collecting UGX 5.4 trillion against a set target of UGX 5.13 trillion.
In line with effectiveness of Science, the Minister noted that the major policies from the Ministry of Finance are also informed by Science, an approach that ensures attaining optimal revenue mobilization especially in the industrial and manufacturing sector.
Since the establishment of the science function in 2008, URA has seen improved growth in revenue collection through solving tax challenges like; sales suppression, smuggling, under declaration of production volumes and abuse of preferential treatment.
The Commissioner General, John R. Musinguzi, acknowledged ATAF’s capacity building and revenue mobilisation initiatives towards revenue administrations in Africa.
In recognition of the great role data from science plays in improved collections in URA, Musinguzi said that in the last quarter alone, URA conducted a tax audit on six companies in the construction sector and recovered over USD 12.8 million.
Over the same period, URA was able to save another UGX500 million using the input and output ratios which identify who qualifies for a refund. This in turn deters false claims and enables URA to collect the revenue due.
On the other hand, Denis K. Kateeba, the Commissioner Tax Investigations explained that the establishment of the modern technology Science Centre in URA has improved evasion cases handled. The cases are intended to deter crime leading to gross leakage in tax revenue. For example, in the last two years the following cases were handled successfully;135 digital forensics, 33 document examination, 209 in laboratory science and 166 cases in applied science.
“As the world advances in different spheres, Science in tax administration cannot be ignored. Many businesses are involved in aggressive tax planning, tax evasion and tax avoidance schemes. It is the responsibility of tax administrators to keep improving, innovating and advancing through science,” Kateeba said of the role of Science in tax administrations.
Mary Baine, the Deputy Executive Director ATAF urged the member countries present to embrace scientific models to minimize risks of non-compliance.
“We can no longer deal with traditional means of collecting taxes and that is why innovations in Science are really paramount,” she added.
Baine explained that URA’s 14-year journey in application of science solutions is evidence of ATAF’s technical assistance within revenue administrations in Africa.
“We have helped countries collect and assess revenue to a tune of USD 1.3 billion in the last six years and excess of 3.3 billion in the last 3 years respectively,” Baine said of the additional technical assistance they have offered to revenue administrations.
Meanwhile, ATAF was established by African revenue authorities in November 2009, to improve the performance of tax administrations in Africa. In its 13th year of existence, ATAF has positioned itself as Africa’s home-grown solution to improve revenue collection, advance the role of taxation in governance and provide a voice to the continent on international tax issues.