Property owners in the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area have asked the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) not to impose property rates and rental taxes that accumulated during the two-year Covid-19 lockdown.
During a meeting organized by URA, property owners argued that the taxes accrued during the lockdown had been waived through a Presidential directive. This directive had advised them not to evict tenants who were unable to pay rent. Property rates are fees imposed on properties with a commercial component.
However, property owners also expressed concern about being charged rental tax for the same period. Property rates are typically paid to local governments, while rental tax is payable to URA.
Speaking during a tax engagement with land and property owners in various districts, Mr. Paul Mukasa, representing landlords from Busega in Lubaga Division, pointed out that during the lockdown, President Museveni had instructed landlords not to evict tenants who couldn’t afford to pay rent.
He questioned why URA and KCCA were now collecting taxes for a period when they were explicitly advised not to evict tenants and were not receiving income. He emphasized that it would be unfair to expect them to pay taxes on money they never earned.
Mr. Mukasa also noted that some property owners were receiving notices from URA threatening property attachment if they failed to pay the taxes.
“We are willing to pay rental and property taxes that are due after the economy reopens. But it is unjust to charge us for a period when many of us were not earning,” he said.
Similarly, Mr. Ismail Byekwaso, a property manager with Senana, called on URA to adopt a more flexible approach toward taxpayers and avoid issuing urgent notices or freezing bank accounts.
“They should listen to us because closing our bank accounts makes it difficult for taxpayers,” he stated.
During the meeting, Mr. John Musinguzi, the URA commissioner general, mentioned that property owners were invited to express their concerns, emphasizing the importance of building a constructive relationship with taxpayers. He assured them that avenues for correction and improvement would be explored.