Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) paid at least Shs3.5b to whistle-blowers in the period ended December last year for various tax recoveries. The money was paid against Shs120b that was recovered from tax defaulters. While responding to this publication’s inquiries at the weekend, Mr Ibrahim Bbosa, the URA assistant commissioner public and corporate affairs, said the tax body had received 117 cases in 2022 from whistle-blowers, from which, Shs180b worth of unpaid taxes was assessed. However, he noted, out of Shs180b, Shs120b was recovered, leading to payment of Shs3.5b towards successful whistle-blower reports.
The Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Act, 2022 provides for informing URA of non-complaint taxpayer for which one is paid 5 percent of the tax or duty assessed or Shs100m. The Act, which also contains penalties for non-complainant taxpayers or those that falsify business information to undervalue tax obligations, indicates that URA can pay any person who provides information leading to identification or recovery of unassessed tax.Rewarding whistle-blowers is a long-term measure through which URA is seeking to improve tax compliance. However, Mr Bbosa said that because tax evasion is sometimes sophisticated, some investigations have had to take years, which in some cases has frustrated whistleblowers. “Tax evasion can be sophisticated, leading to prolonged audits and or investigations. Some investigations take years to complete, especially when information is not readily available or the process involves lengthy litigation and objections. This makes informers particularly impatient and challenging to manage,” he said.
URA last year said taxpayers who provide false or misleading statements about their businesses would face a penalty of Shs110m.The penalty, which was increased from Shs4m, was part of the larger pool of penalties that took effect on July 1 as a way of improving compliance. Other penalties relate to offences committed against the Electronic Receipting and Invoicing System (EFRIS) and Digital Tax Stamps, which will require an offending taxpayer to pay 1,500 currency points or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or both.