Clerics protest taxes on religious books

By EMMANUEL AINEBYOONA.

Religious leaders have taken a strong position against government’s move to tax religious reading materials like Bibles, Qurans, prayer and hymn books.

This follows a decision by the Uganda Revenue Authority to abolish a long-standing tradition of not taxing materials used by clerics to preach the word of God to their followers.

The URA Commissioner General Doris Akol in an April 19th letter, told Church of Uganda officials that the exemption was an anomaly.

Her letter was a response to the a March 18th petition from the Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, asking URA to have a consignment of over 9,000 prayer and hymn books from Nairobi exempted from VAT.

Inter-Religious Council of Uganda’s Secretary General, Joshua Kitakule says in a country whose Motto affirms ‘For God and My Country, and

where about nine out of 10 of the citizens subscribe to a religion, the tax is going to influence the prices of these items upwards by about Shs3, 000.

However, the Finance Ministry Spokesperson Jim Mugunga, says the tax body is simply widening the tax base through its constitutional mandate.

URA has been expanding its tax base, including new taxes on social media as one of the new tax measures of weaning the country from donor dependency.