Sarah Ssewanyana, Lawrence Bategeka, Madina Guloba and Julius Kiiza
Uganda is a low-income country that has registered strong economic growth in recent years, averaging about 8 per cent since 1992. Tax reforms introduced in July 1996 have resulted in an increase in tax revenue from about 11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1997–98 to 13 per cent in 2005, where it has remained. One of the key challenges facing government is how to increase revenues and generate the funding needed to eradicate poverty and pay for critical development investments, thereby reducing its dependency on foreign aid. Many Ugandans have not shared in the country's economic growth and income inequality is growing. Poverty remains high, with about 31 per cent of the population living below the poverty line in 2005–06 (Ssewanyana and Okidi 2007). It is unclear, however, whether the country's policy-makers view taxation as primarily a means of raising revenue or as a redistributive instrument.
Since the 1990s the government has introduced a number of reforms in the taxation system. Several studies (Bahiigwa et al. 2004; World Bank 2006; Ssewanyana and Okidi 2008) have assessed the impact of these reforms on household welfare, while others (Chen et al. 2001 and Ssewanyana and Okidi 2008) provide useful analyses of the incidence of taxation by focusing on the tax burden by poverty status and expenditure quintile. This chapter examines the shifts in the burden of taxation resulting from the reforms from a gender perspective. More specifically, it is an attempt to analyse the differential impact tax policies and tax reforms have had on men and women, particularly on poor women. It focuses on both domestic indirect taxes, including the Value-Added Tax (VAT) and excise duties, and direct taxes, with specific reference to personal income tax (PIT) including Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) and the Local Service Tax (LST). Our analysis relies heavily on the Uganda National Household Survey of 2005–06 (UNHS III) data and administrative data from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).
Uganda is one of a growing number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that are beginning to take gender into account when developing economic policy. Gender