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Law Society Writes to Museveni over Income Tax Bill

The lawyers caution that exempting MPs from paying taxes will give them a greater weight over the ordinary citizens as far as equal obligation to paying taxes is concerned. They add that this preferential treatment amounts to discrimination contrary to article 2 of the constitution.
Uganda Law Society –ULS, an umbrella body for professional lawyers in Uganda has written to President Yoweri Museveni requesting him not to assent to the Income Tax Bill in which Members of Parliament voted to exempt their allowances from tax.

In their letter dated April 18, the lawyers argue that every Ugandan has an obligation to pay taxes irrespective of their standing in the country. The statement is signed by the newly elected president of the society Francis Gimara.

The lawyers caution that exempting MPs from paying taxes will give them a greater weight over the ordinary citizens as far as equal obligation to paying taxes is concerned. They add that this preferential treatment amounts to discrimination contrary to article 2 of the constitution.

“In the premises, the ULS has written to the President of the Republic of Uganda requesting him not to assent to this Bill. Every Ugandan is obligated to pay taxes irrespective of their position in society and there should not be a class of citizens who are exempted from payment of taxes.” the statement of the lawyers reads in part.

They add that the tax burden should be shared fairly and Parliament should only develop a tax regime that applies to all citizens without discrimination.

The law society further in its statement, slams the MPs for rushing to come up with a Bill yet there is a pending court case before the Court of Appeal, in which the Parliamentary Commission is challenging the High Court's ruling that held that URA should tax each MPs emolument's.

“The Parliamentary Commission being dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court lodged a notice of appeal dated February 9, 2016. Before the Court of Appeal could pronounce itself on the appeal, the Members of Parliament have chosen to render court powerless and the judgment useless by passing a law exempting them from paying tax,” the statement adds.

“This action is not only an abuse of the judicial process but it also amounts to misuse of legislative power,” The statement adds.

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