In its maiden vetting meeting, the Tax Agents Registration Committee (TARC) has approved 289 tax agents’ applications.
Following the approval, the agents will effective January 2018 guide and represent taxpayers on the Domestic Taxes (DT) side for 12 months, ending December 2018.
On the Customs side, licensed clearing agents interact with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) on taxpayers’ behalf, a status the institution wanted replicated under DT.
The agents were chosen out of a total of 316 applicants who expressed interest in the individual (natural person) and non-individual (companies/partnerships) categories. Of the 289 applicants, 119 are individual, including their nominees, while 170 are non-individual (companies/partnerships), including their nominees.
At the selection held at the URA headquarters in Nakawa, Kampala, committee chairperson Doris Akol, lauded the applicants’ interest in managing clients’ tax affairs.
“This is a key milestone for us and a stepping stone in professionalizing this field,” she stated.
Akol’s colleagues on the committee are: Derick Nkajja from the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU); Godfrey Akena, from the Uganda Law Society; Annet Nakawunde Mulindwa, the managing director of Finance Trust bank and Feddy Bahikirwe Mwerinde, a tax consultant from the private sector.
In an advertisement, Akol urged people and companies interested in offering tax agent services, to submit their applications by November 15, 2017. Application forms are available on the URA web portal-https://ura.go.ug-under manual forms.
The Tax Procedures Code Act 2014 (TPCA) provides for tax agents. It describes them as people involved in:-
The preparation, certification and filing of tax returns, information returns or other statements or reports required by URA.
The preparation of requests for ruling, petitions for reinvestigation, protests, objections, requests for refund or tax certificates, compromise settlements and/or abatement of tax liabilities and other official papers and correspondences with URA.
Meetings and hearings on behalf of the taxpayer in all matters relating to a taxpayer’s rights, privileges or liabilities under the laws or regulations administered by URA.
Several challenges, among them failure to effectively communicate with taxpayers, made the agents vetting and committee inevitable.
“One of the biggest persistent setbacks to delivery of excellent revenue services was the information gap between the institution and taxpayers,” observed Akol.
“This turned out to be an area some unregulated tax agents took advantage of, with actions ranging from misrepresentation of taxpayers to defrauding them of huge sums of money.”
And in spite of continued taxpayer education, fraudsters posing as tax agents continued to cheat the public, according to Akol.
As the practice of using tax agents becomes entrenched, it is expected that:-
All taxpayers should use the services of a registered agent.
All persons operating as tax agents for Domestic Taxes and intend to continue offering the same services must apply for registration and obtain registration certificates in accordance with requirements of the TPCA.
Tax agents who would not have registered in a given timeframe under the TPCA shall cease to offer tax agent services and URA shall not transact with them in tax administration matters.
Who is eligible to apply?
An individual (natural person) or non-individual (partnership or company) can apply to the committee for registration as a tax agent.
Non-individual applicants are required to nominate individuals to be licensed as tax agents, i.e., in the case of a partnership, the partner nominated is the one to be licensed, while for a company the employee(s) nominated are the ones to be licensed.
The individual applicants or nominees to be licensed shall meet the following requirements:-
Are fit and proper persons to prepare tax returns on behalf of the taxpayer.
Are of high integrity and good character; and in addition possess:
A degree or a post-graduate award from an approved tertiary institution in the discipline that is relevant for the provision of tax agent services.
Completed a course in taxation that is recognized by the Tax Agents Registration Committee.
Have engaged in the equivalent of two years of full-time tax practice in the preceding five years prior to the coming into force of the Tax Procedure Code (TPC) Act 2014.
The writer is the acting assistant commissioner, Public & Corporate Affairs, Uganda Revenue Authority.