Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax on the value added at each stage of the production and distribution process and on the importation of goods. VAT registered importers in Uganda are charged the statutory VAT rate of 18 per cent, however, importers that are not VAT registered are charged both the 18 per cent and an additional 15 per cent, which is designated “Domestic VAT”. The statutory basis of the 15 per cent is unclear. Domestic VAT appears to be a tax created by the Uganda Revenue Authority in a bid to raise revenue from a largely non-compliant base. The legality of the tax was challenged in Margaret Akiiki Rwaheru and 13,945 Others v Uganda Revenue Authority. The court ruled that Domestic VAT was irregular when applied to importers who qualified to register for VAT but had not registered, but was illegal when applied to importers who did not qualify to register for VAT. Despite this ruling, the URA has continued to charge all importers Domestic VAT, regardless of whether they qualify to register for VAT. This article seeks to re-examine the legality of Domestic VAT.
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