Health workers are questioning a move by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to charge them an annual fee of 100,000 Shillings in stamp duty. The tax came into force in 2022 with the amendment of the Stamp Duty Act.
According to Dr. Katumba Ssentongo, the Registrar of the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC), they had been tasked by the URA Commissioner General to start collecting this tax from doctors in 2022 but have since not collected it.
Katumba says the council is already collecting annual practicing license fees from doctors and that it would be easier for them to require any practitioner renewing their annual license to show proof of stamp duty payment than collecting the tax.
However, bodies are discussing modalities through which this tax will be collected. Health workers say the new tax is an added burden considering they are already paying many other taxes apart from the 100,000 Shillings that is paid annually to renew practicing licenses.
Dr. Herbert Luswata, the General Secretary of the Uganda Medical Association says this is a case of double taxation and there is already a case in court on the matter.
Dr. Yesse Mutabazi, a doctor in private practice says that the big burden of taxing makes the cost of private health service spiral as the costs are pushed down to the final health consumer.
Officials at URA say apart from doctors, other professionals such as auditors and surveyors have complied and have since started paying.
Harold Okodi an official from URA who was responding to the concerns of the medical workers at a sensitization meeting organized by the Medical Council said the duty rate is fixed across all professions that are licensed by respective bodies and cannot be changed because that’s what the law stipulates.
Martin Asingwire, a lawyer who petitioned the constitutional court over this law said their argument from the beginning was that all professional bodies already had a licensing regime and professionals were already remitting fees to them.
He says URA should wait for proper interpretation of the law from the constitutional court before they embark on enforcement.