Whether you can or cannot wrap your head around it, Ugandans are now (effective July 1st, 2018) being taxed when they use social media. Ugandans have the options of the following tax plans when they use social media:
Daily – UGX 200
Weekly – UGX 1,400
Monthly – UGX 6,000
The government, through Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) has passed a bill into law that will impose a tax on the ‘Over The Top’ (OTT) services, which includes social networking sites among others.
Innovative Ugandans, have resorted to using VPNs as a way to block the government from knowing what sites they are visiting. It would appear the government has preempted that move and has since blocked the VPNs Ugandans are using to avoid being taxes when using the various social media sites.
“We have technology that will block the VPN services so that no one dodges the taxes. Different VPN services continue to come with more advanced features to circumvent government crackdowns, but governments around the world have continued to block them,” said Godfrey Mutabazi, the Executive Director of the UCC.
Mutabazi further said that in cases where Ugandans have circumvented the taxation, they would be subjected to the same taxes with the possibility of additional charges when accessing the OTT services.
The move to tax social media use was among other reasons, meant to deter Ugandans from taking to social media to gossip. It was also aimed at raising the government revenue, and with the country’s estimated 13 million internet users. The Ugandan government is poised to rake in about UGX 400 billion to UGX 1.4 trillion per year.
This move will without a doubt bar some Ugandans who cannot afford the new tax from accessing the internet. They were already struggling to buy the internet bundles for mobile data, and with the addition of taxation, things will get even more out of reach for some.