Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] Commissioner General Doris Akol found herself at a loss of words after a tweep cornered her on Wednesday.
The authority was holding a live Twitter session running under the hashtag #AskTheCG.
She was first asked whether it was right for Members of Parliament to exempt themselves from paying taxes.
President Yoweri Museveni in May returned the Income Tax Amendment Bill to Parliament for consideration but later went back on his word.
The bill passed by parliament in April seeks to exempt members from paying taxes on their incomes.
Parliament even petitioned the Court of Appeal over the Commercial Court ruling that ordered the Parliamentary Commission to deduct Shs9m in monthly Pay as You Earn Taxes (PAYE) from MPs salaries.
Each MP is expected to pay Shs9m monthly as income tax from his/her salary meaning the country loses Shs3.8bn monthly in tax revenue if they don’t pay.
“MPs pay tax but are seeking to exempt their allowances from income tax,” Akol told tweeps during the Wednesday online engagement.
Another tweep Thomas Ddumba [@tomddumba] carefully reminded Akol that Museveni gave NRM MPs Shs5m each [totalling to Shs1.7bn] to buy suits and hold parties.
Ddumba: Are cash gifts/ incentives taxable?
Akol: yes, if they exceed the allowable thresholds the applicable taxes or duty will be levied.
Ddumba then sought to know what the “allowable threshold” was in this case.
Akol said the threshold at the moment is $500 [about Shs1,675,000].
“Museveni gave NRM MPs UGX 5m. Why didn’t you collect tax on the cash gift?” Ddumba queried.
It then dawned on the Commissioner General that she had been cornered and left with no room for escape.
She simply went silent.
But Ddumba was not finished yet.
“Selective application of tax laws?” he pushed on, rubbing salt in Akol’s already “inflicted wounds”.
The Commissioner General maintained her steady and progressive silence.
Determined to squeeze one more word from her, Ddumba insisted: “answer my question”.
Akol kept quiet.
Ddumba pushed his luck further: “It would be nice if my question is answered. You seem to have gone quiet on me.”
Akol was now completely mute.
“They,” Ddumba now retreated to tell the world, “[URA] went silent when I asked a real question.”