Tax body Uganda Revenue Authority(URA) has announced it has adopted a lifestyle audit to catch corrupt employees with unexplained wealth.
In 2019, the URA board of directors approved a Lifestyle Audit Policy to combat corruption and illegal acquisition of property by analyzing staff’s living standards to establish if they are consistent with their known source(s) of income.
These Lifestyle audits According to James Kamara, the Manager Staff Compliance, the lifestyle audits will help break the shrewd secrecy and encourage people to work and acquire property through the right channels.
“ If these lifestyle audits are well executed, URA will be able to recover unpaid taxes arising from the acquisition and possession of the illegally acquired assets,” Kamara said.
According to the tax body, the lifestyle audit will be constituted in case any URA staff is suspected or reported to be living in a life inconsistent with his/her known sources of income or where information or intelligence has been received that a member of staff or their beneficiaries have acquired or are in possession of tainted property.
The audit will also be carried out following a recommendation from an investigation report where a staff was allegedly involved in tax evasion/fraud, corruption, facilitating trade in prohibited or restricted goods with a likelihood of possession of tainted property.
“An audit will also be carried out basing on information received from informers, general public, media, law enforcement agencies, among other sources indicating that a staff may have a standard of living that is not consistent with his/her known sources of income,” URA says.
The lifestyle audit will also depend on recommendations made from the Compliance Reviews and Internal Audit Department of URA, highlighting areas prone to corruption for instance Compliance Management, and Refunds in Domestic Taxes Department, Valuation and Tariff, Document Processing Centre, Enforcement and Warehousing in Customs Department.
“The Commissioner General may also request other Government Institutions with Investigative powers like the Office of Inspectorate of Government(OIG), Financial Intelligence Authority to assist or facilitate investigations of lifestyle audits.”
“If the audit shows a mismatch between a staff ‘s known income and assets compared to their lifestyle and spending patterns, there is a risk that the person is deriving alternative income from sources that constitute conflict of interest or illegal activity; including embezzlement and bribery. As verification often includes assessments of a staff ’s household, the approach is particularly helpful in detecting whether corrupt proceeds could have been concealed under the names of family members or associates.”
URA says the audit is intended to encourage staff to work and acquire property through the right channels.
President Museveni has in the past lambasted URA of still having some corruption officials in its ranks.
However, the Commissioner General John Musinguzi Rujoki has pledged to weed out any corrupt elements within the tax body.