In Uganda, women are pivotal players in trade and commerce, contributing
significantly to local markets’ vitality and the nation’s economic growth. Despite
facing numerous hurdles, these resilient women persist in their businesses,
overcoming challenges ranging from limited capital to unfair taxation practices.
However, the burden of unfair taxation weighs heavily on their shoulders, hindering
their ability to thrive in the marketplace.

The introduction of various taxes, including ground rent, trade licensing fees, property tax, income tax, and local service tax, has further burdened women traders, many of whom operate small and medium enterprises (SMEs). These taxes, coupled
with structural inequalities in tax payment structures, frustrate the operations of many
female-led businesses.

The adoption of the Electronic Fiscal Receipting and Invoicing Solution (EFRIS), part of the E-Tax System, presents additional challenges for women traders. Without
adequate awareness and sensitization, these traders lack the technical ability to
navigate and utilize the digital platform effectively. Moreover, unreliable internet
connectivity and power outages exacerbate these challenges, limiting their access to
the benefits of digital taxation.

The bureaucratic nature of the E-tax system proves daunting for women traders, who
often lack the time, resources, or knowledge to comply with its requirements.
Consequently, many women struggle to integrate the system into their businesses,
widening existing disparities in the marketplace.

The lack of experts in local and import revenue valuation in major cities leads to
unfair tax assessments, with women traders often subjected to higher tax rates
compared to their male counterparts. The ongoing sit-down strikes by traders further
worsen the plight of women in business, as they lack the financial reserves to
withstand prolonged disruptions in their activities.

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As women bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities at home, their ability to
participate in protest actions or find alternative sources of income during strikes is
severely limited. The closure of shops and disruption of supply chains worsen
existing vulnerabilities, deepening socio-economic inequalities faced by women in
business.

Ugandan women activists must demand gender-inclusive approaches to valuation
and taxation from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). Vigorous sensitization of
taxpayers, especially those in the business community, is essential to prevent the

collapse of women-led businesses. Additionally, the functionalization of the Tax
Justice Access referral system across major cities will enable quick tax justice and
redress for aggrieved business owners.

URA must reconsider its exploitative taxation system to avoid further harming the
Ugandan business community. URA MUST understand that “An all-inclusive fiscal
policy is not just about balancing the budget; it’s about balancing opportunities”.

“Empowering women economically through fair taxation ensures a stronger, more
resilient economy for all.” It’s time to ensure that taxation policies empower rather
than oppress women in business, fostering a more equitable and prosperous society
for all.

The post BABIRYE LILLIANE: The Struggle of Women Traders: Navigating Uganda’s Unfair Taxation Regime  appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.

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