The infamous social media tax in Uganda came into effect at midnight July 1, 2018 but Ugandans are devising ways of evading it.
A random survey on social media done by the Daily Monitor indicated several people had resorted to Virtual Private Network (VPN) to bypass paying the daily excise duty charge on Over-The-Top (OTT) services.
According to the results of the Saturday opinion poll on the publication’s Twitter handle, 19 per cent of the 581 followers who participated said they would spend less time on social media, 11 per cent said they would stop using social media while 70 per cent said they would resort to using VPN.
Every Ugandan will be compelled to pay $0.05 (Shs200) daily, $0.36 (Shs1,400) weekly or $1,56 (Shs6,000) monthly as excise duty in the new tax.
The measures to charge those using over the top services or sites that offer voice and messaging over the internet $0.05 were announced by the country’s government in the budget for the financial year 2018/2019.
President Museveni in his letter directing the Uganda Revenue Authority and Ministry of Finance to tax social media argued that most Ugandans using social media were rumor-mongers but said he would exempt those using it for educational purposes. Critics have questioned how he would determine those using it for educational purposes.
At least three members of parliament criticised the new rules as “double taxation”.
Most of the resistance came from younger MPs Robert Kyaggulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, from Kyaddondo East – as well as Joshua Anywarach and Silas Aogon of Kumi Municipality. They all say that because users access WhatsApp through taxed airtime, an additional tax would be an infringement on users’ rights.
Mobile money transactions will also be taxed, with a 1% levy on the total value of each transaction.