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In Uganda Citizens to pay tax for using social media

The controversial law will impose a 200 shilling [$0.05, £0.04] daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, and Twitter.

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Social media users to pay tax effective July this year play

Social media users to pay tax effective July this year

The Ugandan Parliament has passed a bill which will ensure that people using social media platforms in the country pay taxes.

The controversial law will impose a 200 shilling [$0.05, £0.04] daily levy on people using internet messaging platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, and Twitter.

The country will start implementing the law on July 1, 2018.

The new Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill will also impose other taxes, including a 1% levy on the total value of mobile money transactions. However, civil society groups have warned that this move will make the poor poorer since they hardly use banking services.

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The government of Uganda led by President Yoweri Museveni had pushed for the changes, arguing that social media encouraged gossip.

State Minister for Finance David Bahati said the tax increases were important to help Uganda pay off its growing national debt.

A constitutional amendment removing presidential age limits allows Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled since 1986, to run for a sixth term in 2021 play

A constitutional amendment removing presidential age limits allows Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled since 1986, to run for a sixth term in 2021

(AFP/File)

 

However, it is unclear how authorities will be able to identify Ugandans accessing social media sites.

But the President has indicated that they will not tax internet data because it helps in research and education.

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In March this year, Mr Museveni wrote a letter to the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija pushing for the social media law.

He explained that the revenue collected by the social media tax would help the country "cope with consequences of Olugambo [gossiping]".

Many have argued that the law would curtail freedom of expression.

However, Mr Kasaija said the government is only getting the money to improve infrastructure.

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