Uganda`s constitutional court challenges social media tax

A pack of Ugandan lawyers has challenged the social media tax that became absolute on July 1. This was due to the complaints raised by Ugandans on the controversial social media tax introduced by the government. The lawyers were led by kiiza Eron who asked the constitutional court on Monday to remove the new social media tax. They said it denies Ugandans chance to express them selves on what is happening in the country and commentary on the government.

Uganda`s constitutional court challenges social media tax
Social media is for paying in Uganda

“This social media tax is not meant to generate revenue. This tax is meant to put down on free expression. It is meant to inhibit political organization online. And it is going to stifle business startups that are using the social media. Of course we are seeking for a nullification of the law which we think is unreasonable, unnecessary and illegal,” said Eron. According to VOA.

This new social media tax affects most especially social media users like whatsapp,  twitter, Facebook, snap chat, instagram and likedin.

This was proposed by H.E. Yoweri kaguta museveni early this year and it was approved by the parliament in May. The president argues that Ugandans miss use social media for rumor mongering and sending death threats.

“The president’s phrasing raised concerns the tax could be used to crack down on criticism of the government online.” VOA reported.

Minister for information technology, Frank Tumwebaze said “We are targeting the OTTS, because people are preferring them because there is no much cost. So we are saying, that money you are donating to the intellectual property owners of Whatsapp and Skype, let government also pick a shilling. It’s a tax on specific value added services,.

A couple of young people thought a protest was in order and took to the street – only to be detained as they approached the parliament of Uganda.

What Ugandans are saying about the tax

Many social media users are not happy about the new tax imposed on them.

Uganda`s constitutional court challenges social media tax
Ugandans have resorted to VPNs in protest to the tax

“Daily payment of 200 shillings, it’s unjustifiable. First of all me I need social media according to the work I do,” said Nabatanzi. “Secondly where do all the taxes that the government collects go? We are paying so many taxes, local government taxes, pay as you earn, but the services are very poor. We have no roads foremost; we have no drugs in hospitals. We have no good schools, where do the taxes go?” according to VOA

The Ugandan government hopes to collect over shs.400 billions annually from the social media tax.

However, many Ugandans have resorted to downloading virtual private networks, VPNs, to bypass paying the new social media tax, despite the risk of being prosecuted for tax evasion.

 By Peter Fero