The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has expressed concern over the recent request by taxing body, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), to financial institutions seeking customers’ details.
Through their chairman Simon Peter Kinobe, ULS argues that despite having a legal duty to collect taxes from all people eligible, URA is also duty bound to uphold the constitution of Uganda (1995) (as amended).
“We are aware of the provision of the provisions of the Tax Procedures Code Act, 2014 the empower the commissioner to require any person to furnish her with any information for the purpose of administering any provision of any tax law. However, we are of a considered view that this provision should not be implemented at the expense of the constitutional right of privacy enshrined in article 27 of the constitution,” Kinobe states in part.
He contends that the action by URA if implemented will destroy the core of the banking industry which has been built on bank-consumer confidentiality.
“All financial institutions and non-bank financial institutions are under the constitutional duty to ensure that no person interferes with their clients’ privacy. In this case, divulging information pertaining to private property held on respective accounts,” Kinobe continues.
The ULS therefore confirms that they will work with Uganda Bankers Association in efforts aimed at upholding the constitution of the republic of Uganda, including seeking legal redress.
Meanwhile, a group of 30 Banks under their umbrella body, the Uganda Bankers Association Limited have petitioned the Constitutional court challenging the move by Uganda Revenue Authority asking them to avail information regarding their customers.
In the letter dated March, 16, 2018, and copied to all banks in Uganda, URA seeks to obtain information in detail on all account holders from January 2016 to December 2017.
Through their lawyers of AF Mpanga and Company Advocates, the banks have filed the petition against the Attorney General and the Commissioner General of Uganda Revenue Authority seeking an intervention by the Constitutional Court to reverse the request by the tax body.