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Social Media Tax Uganda is taxing its citizens for using Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter to gossip, insults

President Yoweri Museveni said the new tax will help the government to cope with the consequences of social media gossip and insults from Ugandans

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Uganda tax its citizens for using Twitter, Whatsapp to gossip play

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni

(Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

The Ugandan government is proposing new taxes on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and others to stop its citizens from gossipping as well maximise potential revenues from different telecommunication services in the country.

The government believes the social media is largely used by its citizens to spread gossip, prejudices and insults and needs resources (revenue) to cope with the consequences of their acts.

President Yoweri Museveni in a recent letter addressed to the country's Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija, questioned the Uganda Revenue Authority laxity in exploring new tax sources.

“I am not going to propose a tax on internet use for educational, research or reference purposes... these must remain free.”

“However, olugambo on social media (opinions, prejudices, insults, friendly chats) and advertisements by Google and I do not know who else must pay tax because we need resources to cope with the consequences of their lugambo.

Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance told Uganda's state television, NTV, that the President's recommendations have been approved by the Cabinet and expected to be fixed in the 2018/2019 budget.

The new taxes

The president said the new taxes on telephones data transmission and the housing sector will generate rented incomes but are not adequately taxed.

The government is eyeing an additional revenue of Ush400 billion ($108 million) by introducing a small fee of Uganda Ush100 per day from sim-cards that are used by these OTTs which will be Ush1.4 trillion ($378 million) from social media users annually.

Meanwhile, telecommunication operators in Uganda had since rejected the government's move, saying it will amount to “double taxation”.

Recall that two years ago, the Nigerian government met resistance from the public while planning to impose 10% tax on phone calls, text messages and data.

The government had premised its argument on the need to enhance telecommunication services in the country.

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