UGANDA, Mbarara | Real Muloodi News | Mbarara City commercial property owners have requested the Mbarara City Authority to organise more property tax awareness initiatives.
The appeal came during a stakeholder engagement meeting on property tax, titled ‘Services and Fair Tax for Property Owners,’ hosted by RippleNami Uganda with support from USAID under the Domestic Revenue Mobilisation for Development (DRM4D) project.
The engagement took place on Monday last week at the Acacia Hotel in Mbarara City.
Mbarara property owners say they want more tax education before imposing varied rates on their properties.
Mbarara City initiated a property valuation exercise in early March 2022 to help determine the appropriate rates to impose on commercial properties.
The valuation exercise is being carried out by Knight Frank Uganda Limited, one of Uganda’s leading commercial and residential estate agencies.
Francis Basiima, Chairman of Mbarara City’s LCI Kiswahili cell, criticised the review process, suggesting that the city council should invest more in educating citizens about the necessity of paying this tax.
He stated that they anticipate numerous obstacles once Mbarara City Authority begins to collect this tax.
“I am sure the appeals office that you are going to create for our complaints will be overwhelmed by petitions,” said Basiima.
Enid Kobusingye, Chairman of the LCI Kafunjo cell in Mbarara City North, expressed concern that Mbarara City still has distant regions that do not understand property tax well.
“If these people in charge don’t go to those areas and sensitise our people because I see even those who are in the central business district are also confused about the tax, how about us who are new in the city?” asked Kobusingye.
The Local Government Rating Act of 2005, as amended, allows town councils, municipalities, and cities under their authority to conduct property valuations every five years, upon which property rates (taxes) are levied on commercial property owners, as a source of local income for enhanced service delivery.
Mbarara City Deputy City Clerk Richard Mugisha, explained to attendees that the event that 25 per cent of the money collected from property rates is for administration and 75 per cent goes towards providing public services to Mbarara City residents.
Mr Mugisha also explained that if a property owner is unable to pay the tax in full, he can explain to the local council leaders, who can grant him a grace period to pay in two equal instalments under the law.
Mbarara City Council’s Head of Revenue, Samuel Tayebwa, told stakeholders that USAID supported a sensitisation and evaluation exercise so that, when rates are released, all property owners understand property tax and are aware of their entitlement to excellent service delivery.
“As you know, the City Council has been carrying out sensitisation campaigns, but RippleNami and USAID found it prudent to create a platform for the stakeholders and building owners to interface with authorities and to hear their input in the exercise,” said Tayebwa.
Deputy City Clerk Richard Mugisha promised property owners that they would continue to educate the parties involved to ensure they move at the same pace before property tax collection begins next fiscal year.
The Lord Mayor of Mbarara City, Mr Robert Mugaba Kakyebezi, added, “Let property owners know right from the start what they need to do concerning property valuation and appeal before the tax is put in place.”
“When the valuation list is out, go and see how much it is and assess the valuation of your property,” he urged property taxpayers in the city.
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