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Tax tribunal permits URA to collect over UGX 21 billion from Game Discount World

The Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT) has awarded Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), also referred to as the Respondent, the right to collect a tax liability of UGX 21,485,110,040 from Game Discount World (Uganda) Limited, The Applicant.

Game Discount World (Uganda) Limited, lodged an application NO. 25 of 2021 with TAT against the Respondent’s decision of imposing the tax liability. The Applicant was challenging a customs post clearance audit wherein it was established that the Game Discount World omitted several incidental costs during the importation of goods from Masstores (pty) Ltd trading as Mass discounters, a fellow subsidiary incorporated in South Africa.

On 5th May 2021, when the matter came up for hearing, the Respondent raised a preliminary objection to the effect that the Application was time barred having been lodged outside the mandatory forty-five days.

URA submitted that under Section 230(1) of the East African Community Customs Management Act (EACCMA), 2004, provides that; “A person dissatisfied with the decision of the commissioner under section 229 may appeal to a tax appeals tribunal established in accordance with section 231.

Section 230(2) of the EACCMA provides that; a person intending to lodge an appeal under this section shall lodge the appeal within forty-five days after being served with the decision, and shall serve a copy of the appeal on the Commissioner.”

URA further contended that the commissioner made the decision on 9th September 2020 and Game Discount World (U) Limited lodged her Application for review on the 6th March 2021, way out of the mandatory 45 days within which one ought to lodge an Application for review.

To reinforceme their submissions, URA’s lawyers cited the case of Uganda Revenue Authority Vs Uganda Consolidated Properties Ltd Court of Appeal. Civil Appeal No. 75 where the Court of Appeal of Uganda, held that: Timelines set by statutes are matters of substantive law not mere technicalities and must be strictly complied with.

The Tax Appeals Tribunal agreed with URA that the Application was time barred and thus dismissed the Application, thus giving giving URA the greenlight to collect the tax liability owed to it by Game Discount World.

Game World was represented by AF Mpanga Advocates while URA was represented by Ronald Baluku, Kwerit Sam and Aliddeki Ssali Alex of URA’s Legal Services and Board Affairs Department.

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