URA shifts position on taxing religious books

By Emmanuel Ainebyoona.

The Uganda Revenue Authority has shifted from its earlier position on taxation of religious books, indicating that a proposal has been made in the VAT amendment Bill 2018 to exempt religious and other educational materials effective July 1st 2018.

The decision was contained in a letter by URA Assistant Commissioner Public and Corporate Affairs Vincent Seruma, in response to a Daily Monitor story, where religious leaders were protesting VAT on Bibles, Korans, prayer and Hymn books.

Seruma says the religious books serve a duo purpose of spiritual nourishment as well as educational reference materials in schools during CRE lessons or Islamic studies.

Seruma explains that Bibles, Prayer and Hymn books still attract VAT at the Standard rate of 18% because the law does not exempt them from VAT,  saying that not collecting the tax earlier had been an anomaly.

The tax authority recently asked Church of Uganda to pay Shs 8.9m VAT on a consignment of over 9,000 prayer and hymn books imported from Nairobi.