Tax Identification Number has  benefits beyond paying taxes

Friday September 25 2020

Paddy Ocheng

By Guest Writer

A longtime friend of mine, Jonathan (not real names), recently called me seeking help on how to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN). He needed to transfer ownership of his newly acquired vehicle into his name. Jonathan is a graphics designer who gets most of his clients online and through referrals. He has been engaged in this trade for the last four years.

Oftentimes, just like Jonathan, the citizenry only thinks of obtaining a TIN when there is a compelling need. So what is a TIN? Who is eligible to obtain a TIN? How is a TIN obtained and why should you obtain a TIN?

A TIN is a unique 10-digit number assigned to every taxpayer by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) for tax administration purposes. Every person (individual, company, partnership, trust, association, etc), who earns income and is liable to pay tax under the Ugandan tax laws, shall apply to be registered for taxes. 

Such income includes employment income - salary and allowances; property income - dividends; business income, and rental income. Registration for persons earning any such income is mandatory. Non-registration attracts a penalty.

A TIN is an online tax account of the taxpayer with URA. Primarily, a TIN is used for payment of taxes to URA. For example, Income Tax, Pay as You Earn (PAYE), Value Added Tax, Local Excise Duty (LED), Stamp Duty, Customs Duties, Withholding Taxes, License & Fees. 

TIN application is done online by accessing the application form on the URA web portal This self-serve process requires you to click e-services, then under ‘Register for taxes’, select ‘individual registration’ or ‘non-individual registration’ depending on what is applicable to you. Read the instructions then select ‘New form’ followed by ‘TIN Inidividual’ or ‘TIN Non-individual’ to download the application form. 


To easily fill the application form, follow the ‘How to apply for a TIN’ guidelines accessible on the URA web portal by clicking ‘self-service’, followed by ‘how to use e-services’ then ‘registration’. All these guidelines and documents are available for download. Just get the guide that fits your need.

The application shall be accompanied by the required identification documents such as National ID for individuals and Certificate of Incorporation for companies.
Upon registration, URA issues one TIN to every registered person. The same TIN shall be used for all transactions with URA. 

You do not need different TINs for different purposes. Please note that a TIN is issued free of charge. In addition to registration of motor vehicle, Jonathan also needs a TIN for a variety of other purposes such as import or export of goods into or outside Uganda; claiming tax benefits that may accrue to him such as tax refunds. With a TIN, Jonathan will be able to obtain an operating licence from KCCA/Municipal councils, or any regulatory body in Uganda e.g ICPAU (for accountants), Uganda Law Council (for lawyers); open bank accounts and obtain bank loans; and secure business opportunities. Since Jonathan is a graphics designer, the next big opportunity with reputable companies or government will require registration for taxes and a Tax Clearance Certificate, opportunity meets those who are prepared. 

Government payments and compensations (payments through Integrated Financial Management System), processing of land transactions above Shs50m and management of your account on the URA web portal is also done using a TIN. Jonathan, based on my advice, was guided by the ‘How to use e-services’ guidelines to get his individual TIN. 

He got sensitisation from a URA officer on his rights and obligations as a taxpayer. He was required to pay all applicable taxes on the income that he had earned from his business. Jonathan was delighted with the professional service that he received from the URA staff and the information that he got. He only wished he had known his obligations early enough.
To enjoy the services/benefits mentioned above, you need to obtain a TIN and make your contribution to tax. 
The beauty is that it’s a self-serve process, which fits in with the times that limit human to human interaction. 

 Mr Ocheng works as a manager in domestic taxes at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).