Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) refuted claims that it has plans to tax holy books including Bibles, Qurans, hymn and prayer books. The tax body instead says it intends to exempt them from the 18% valued added tax they have been paying.
URA’s clarification follows a story in The Daily Monitor that claimed that the tax governing body had ordered religious groups to start paying taxes for the holy books starting next financial year
URA head of public and corporate affairs Vincent Seruma issued a vehement denial. Seruma said, “It’s unfortunate that newspapers are saying some different FROM what’s actually on ground. URA is reviewing the old VAT regulations that only exempts stationery and scholarstic materials but holy books don’t belong in that category.”
Seruma explained that, “We have been engaging with religious leaders to have the 18% VAT scrapped off. We’ve been taxing them but we are planning on exempting them.”
Alarmed religious leaders have welcomed the URA explanation saying that taxation would have been punishment yet they use the holy books for spiritual nourishment.
Hajji Nsereko Mutumba, Spokesperson Uganda Muslim Supreme Council added, ”We don’t buy these books. They are donated to us. We don’t know how they have been taxing them with no receipts and invoices. As matter of fact we’ve have abandoned many of them in Entebbe because we couldn’t clear the tax. This proposal will be good if amended.”
The misunderstanding had attracted strongly worded condemnations from the religious community. Many were afraid that the price of holy books would shut up with a tax imposed on them.