Kampala- As 2016 draws to a close, the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) yesterday published a list of 99 tax defaulters with arrears of about Shs39 billion.

In a notice, URA warns the defaulters to have cleared their arrears within seven days if they are to avoid closure by the tax body.

“Whoever will not settle their outstanding liabilities and or produce evidence of payment within the said period shall be enforced upon in accordance with the relevant tax laws,” the notice reads.

Going by the list, Value Added Tax (VAT) is the most common tax that is defaulted on, followed by Withholding Tax and Income Tax.

Uganda has a VAT rate of 18 per cent that is usually applied to finished goods and is paid by the consumer.

The companies are responsible for remitting VAT to URA but some tend to default on the payment.
The largest defaulter on VAT is Gulf Energy Limited, a Kenyan-based oil marketing and import firm to a tune of Shs6.3 billion.

Neptune Petroleum, a company that was involved in the exploration of oil in Uganda and failed to hit the jackpot has withholding tax arrears of Shs5.5 billion.

Neptune Petroleum Uganda Limited registered in the British Virgin Islands is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tower Resources Plc, a public listed company in London. According to the Tower Resources 2015 Annual Report, Neptune Petroleum was dissolved on January 26, this year.

Perennial defaulters
Mr Habib Kagimu has once again been listed as a top tax defaulter. On several occasions, Mr Kagimu has had his businesses shut down by URA debt collectors over tax arrears.

This time, he has unpaid VAT and WHT valued at Shs538m and arrears of Corporation Tax for one of his companies Habib Oil to a tune of Shs1.8 billion. His real-estate company, Habib Properties has also defaulted on VAT and Income tax valued at Shs1.3 billion.

His company, Habib Oil had for years been a supplier of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) to Electromaxx Uganda, a power generation plant.

However, government has not been purchasing power from Electromaxx in the last two years, leaving Habib Oil out of business.

Mandela National Stadium is once again listed as a tax defaulter with arrears of Shs2 billion in unpaid VAT and Pay As You Earn.

According to the last two audits (December 2013 and December 2014) by the Office of the Auditor General, Mandela National Stadium has been consistently defaulting on taxes.

In 2013, the defaults totalled about Shs401 billion and by end December 2015, this had gone to about Shs580 billion. These defaults also attract fines. There have been several warnings to the management of the stadium to pay these arrears.

Obey named
Mr Christopher Obey, the former principal accountant in the Pensions Department and recently convicted and jailed for the Shs88.2 billion pension scam is also listed on the shame list.
Currently serving his 10-year jail term at the Luzira Maximum Prison, URA has listed Mr Obey for having defaulted on Shs1.12 billion in income taxes.