Private Schools vow to raise fees to cover taxes

Pupils in class
Pupils in class

Private schools proprietors have vowed to increase tuition in the face of a new taxation policy on education institutions.

Mr Sospater Akwenyu, Uphill College Mbuya, lamented on the various taxes government has imposed on private schools as an avenue of collecting revenue to support service delivery. He warned that this is going to deny many children from humble background from accessing quality education.

“We shall be forced to raise school fees with these many taxes. This is the duty of government to provide education. But you have failed to do it. Instead of complimenting us now, you are heavily taxing us. What is your interest?” Mr Akwenyu asked.

His colleague at Minaka Kindergarten and Primary School, Ms Nalongo Kawenja added to his voice: “We are not here to accept taxes. Go back and get the knives and begin cutting them.”

The remarks were made at a dialogue between Ministry of Education, their counterparts in Finance, Uganda Revenue Authority, Kampala Capital City Authority and owners of private schools under their umbrella, National Private Education Institutions Association-Uganda.

But government officials maintained their stand on taxing private education institutions insisting they must be paid this financial year.

Ms Doris Akol, URA Commissioner General yesterday told stakeholders that if they don’t comply to the new tax policy, it will attract a fine. She explained that the reasons for which government gave income tax exemption to private education institutions in 2007 has been achieved. As such, it has to resume this financial to cater for government’s other pressing needs.

“There has been termination of exemption on income derived from private education institutions. It was given for a purpose and it has now been realized because the education sector has now grown with many schools. These have to begin contributing to government coffers,” Ms Akol said yesterday at Nambole Stadium.

Affected also include supplies of printing services like text books which have been subjected to value-added tax (VAT). The school owners are also required to withhold 6 per cent on any payment to service providers like firewood, fuel, beans and posho for as long as the payment is above Shs1million.

“Sometimes things that have to be done in nation building are not comfortable but we have to do them. Even when there are people involved in corruption, I request that you do your part. We have started a path. It is going to be a partnership and the journey taken is a fruitful one. I understand the temperature is getting a little bit hot. We may debate until the cows come home but the tax has to be paid now,” Ms Akol said.

However, Ms Zaujja Ndifuna, Mbogo schools proprietor pleaded with government to be lenient on them.

“You love this country but I don’t think you love it more than us. We are going to end up buying products expensively. In addition to eight taxes we have to pay, that withholding tax is now a burden to us. Are you understanding us? Are you willing to listen to us? Let us have general taxation in order not to suffocate schools,” she pleaded.

Ms Susan Nakagolo, an official at Finance added: “This is not a proposal. It is a law which was debated in Parliament and passed. The President assented to it.”

While they appreciate the value of paying tax, Mr Kirabira Hasadu, a member of NPEIAU said levying taxes on only private institutions leaving government ones is unfair since they are all offering a service. He said that they were going to appeal to President Museveni to intervene as explanation from government officials was unsatisfactory.

Story by Patience Ahimbisibwe