In Uganda, the informal sector is estimated to be 52.4% of GDP (UBOS, 2014) and employs about 70% of the labour force. In a bid to widen the tax base, The Minister of Finance, recently announced a number of policy and revenue enhancement measures this financial year, geared at tapping into the Informal Sector. Among these measures, is a requirement for certain taxpayers to have Tax Identification Number (TIN) as a pre-condition to accessing certain services and licenses. I continue to receive feedback on how difficult it is to obtain a TIN from URA. I trust that this article will help demystify this process and make it less stressful to register for a TIN.
Doris Akol, Commissioner General Uganda Revenue Authority
What is a TIN?
The Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is a 10-digit number that works as your identity for taxes and also unlocks your account with URA. Like a bank account number, the TIN acts as an account number for a taxpayer with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). It is issued at every URA service center using our online platforms free of cost to the taxpayer. On receiving a TIN, our clients are required to quote this number in all correspondences with URA in order to ease their doing business with us and other entities.
Who requires a TIN?
Everyone who is employed or involved in any type of income producing or economic activity where customs duties, Income tax, VAT, excise duty, stamp duty, withholding tax or any other tax are due.
Below is a list of persons that require a TIN;
a) Any person running a business in Uganda
b) Persons seeking trading licenses to run any business in Uganda
c) Importation of goods in Uganda
d) All employees with a monthly salary exceeding UGX 235,000
e) Acquisition, disposal and transfer of land whose value exceeds UGX 50 Million
f) Motor vehicle or boda boda related services like change of ownership, changing from old logbook to a new logbook (validation), alteration of vehicle particulars, acquiring a duplicate logbooks and number plates etc.
g) Persons making supplies of goods and services to anyone of above 5m. h) Any person supplying goods and/or services to Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments Further to note is, all persons seeking licenses, or any form of authorisation necessary for purposes of conducting any business in Uganda are required to have a TIN. Examples include;
a) Provision of professional services where a license, permit or practicing certificate is required e.g. for doctors, pharmacies, engineers, architects, lawyers, etc.
b) Acquisition of a trading license from any Local Government, City Authority or Transport Licensing Board.
c) Acquisition of movement permits (e.g. of cattle from one location to another) d) Any Taxpayer receiving goods and services above UGX 5M will be required to provide a TIN of the supplier before they can claim a deduction of that expense for Income Tax purposes. However, to supply Government (Local or Central) you will need a TIN but not necessarily VAT registration.
How does one apply for a TIN?
I will now take you through a brief guide on how to apply for and acquire a TIN. Applications are made online via our web portal www.ura.go.ug. After loading the webpage, follow the link under “e Services” to ‘Registration’ or ‘Register For Taxes’ and click the link that leads to download the form for either “TIN individual registration” or “TIN Non – Individual registration”. Individual relates to natural persons and non-individual relates to legal persons such as companies, Local Governments and trusts. For those doing business as sole proprietors, it is important to note that the TIN is for the business owner, not the business. So, if an individual has more than one business, they are only entitled to one TIN. Nevertheless, you must register all other businesses with URA on your TIN account.
Please download the form template appropriate to your Registration. After downloading the form, you will see a yellow menu with a security warning. Please enable macros by clicking ‘Enable Content’. Enabling the macros helps in completing the form in that there are a number of self-populated fields which you will not need to individually fill in, such as names of Districts and Sub counties. Failure to enable macros will lead to futility in filling the form. You will notice that the forms are spreadsheets in Excel format with a number of worksheets. The last worksheet titled “Help” is a guide on how to fill the form. Please read it before attempting to fill the Application Form. It is imperative to know that while filling in the TIN application all mandatory fields must be completed. The TIN application form requires information that helps URA to accurately maintain the taxpayer’s account.
Please have the following information ready before you start to fill in the form;
1. Individual registration: – Birth & Citizenship identification documents, sources of income, type of business activity and alternative contact.
2. Non- Individual registration:- Name & address, subsidiary details if any, type of applicant, tax type, sources of income, type of business activity, primary authorized contact person and persons associated with entity, such as the Directors.
A few of the critical fields are further outlined below:
1. 1. Identification documents (IDs) The applicant is expected to provide at least two copies of valid identification documents to help us validate the information given in the applications. Where possible, these should include one Government issued ID such as Passport, national ID or Voter Card. These IDs also help us to validate the legal names of the applicant so that the correct taxpayer is the one captured by the online registration system.
1. 2. Contact Details These include email addresses and telephone numbers. These are crucial for taxpayers who apply for TINs for purposes of obtaining services that require them to have an account on the URA portal e.g. importation of goods, filing of returns and motor vehicle related services etc.
They are key in supporting the online registration process and are needed to validate the information given by the applicant as opposed to physical interviews. These details are also very important in managing the security of your account with URA. This implies that whoever has access to your contact details, can get access and transact through your account genuinely or fraudulently. Email addresses are particularly important because after approval of your TIN application, your TIN, along with a default password are sent to your email address to help you access your account on our web portal.
1. 3. Physical Home/ Business address in Uganda This should be stated clearly to help the tax body easily locate the taxpayer in case of any need for; delivery of physical communication, tax education & sensitization and /or routine inspections to validate and update the information given in the application form. Therefore, details like trading center, road/ street name, plot numbers, building name, and shop numbers should always be provided, where available.
1. 4. Income sources The applicant should clearly indicate all their sources of income. This is important for us to ensure that we register a client for all the applicable tax types. For example, an applicant may be employed, but also with some rentable properties/ houses and a shop. One TIN will apply for all these income sources. In case of business income, the applicant is expected to give a clear description of the business they are dealing in to allow URA to classify them in the respective industry/ business sector. As such descriptions like businessman, business woman, and investor are not accepted by the system.
1. 5. Contact us A print out of the completed form together with identification documents should be taken to your local URA Office, ie the one nearest to you. For directions to the closest office to you contact us toll free at 0800117000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We also have Service Centers spread across the country where taxpayers can seek assistance with applying for and obtaining a TIN.
In addition, you may contact us via phone on 0800117000 (toll free) or 0417444602 (not toll free) or email us at email@example.com. I would like to re-emphasize that TIN numbers are issued free of charge by URA. Please report any URA staff that demands payment as a condition to or in exchange for issuance of or registration for a TIN, to the confidential URA Whistle blower line on 0417-442222.
I trust that with the above information, you will now find fewer problems while registering with us. In any event we are available to render assistance as necessary. URA thanks you for working with us as we Develop Uganda Together!
COMMISSIONER GENERAL URA