By Sarah Chelengat
For years, tax compliance has eluded the tax man with slightly over 2 million taxpayers out of a population of 20 million working adults contributing to the tax base. Of the 2 million registered taxpayers, 50% are companies doing business in Uganda. This means a minimal number of Ugandans are contributing to the tax basket.
In a bid to expand the tax base and bring more Ugandans to contribute to national development, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has introduced initiatives such as a mandatory Tax Identification Number (TIN) for motor vehicle transactions and government suppliers who need tax clearance certificates and the Tax Payer Register Expansion Project (TREP), a door to door initiative aimed at sensitization of the citizenry and formalization of the informal sector.
TREP is in collaboration with other government agencies involved in revenue collection and business validation. To simplify taxpayer registration, URA rolled out the instant TIN,a web-based TIN application procedure. This removed the complicated processes that saddled taxpayers and made them prone to errors while trying to register.
These complications forced many clients to resort to tax agents and internet cafes for help which charged exorbitant fees for their services. And for those who could not afford, the journey to acquiring a TIN became long, tedious and sometimes intolerable.
Currently, a taxpayer only needs a National Identification Number (NIN) for individuals or a Certificate of Incorporation for companies. With the NIN, the taxpayer only has to access the URA web portal (ura.go.ug) under eServices and apply for registration using the instant TIN option to get a TIN within 5 minutes.
To simplify the return filing procedure, URA has introduced the web-based return template for presumptive business taxpayers. These are taxpayers whose business turn over in a year does not exceed UGX 150,000,000. Taxpayers under this bracket are not required to file the excel based return that they would find complicated to use because they hardly keep records.
With this web-based return, a presumptive taxpayer only needs to visit the URA website, select eServices and under Payments- Payment Registration and select their tax head as Income Tax for small business. The taxpayer will only be required to fill in their TIN, personal business details and submit. The system then auto computes the relevant tax amount. In addition, URA has introduced a web-based provisional income tax return which is accessible through a taxpayer’s TIN account.
Taxpayers can now pay their taxes using various payment options including mobile money, online payments, RTGS, EFT and cash payments through banks or agent banking stalls. Therefore, there is no need to line up in the bank as one can use any of these options to fulfill their obligations at their convenience.
Furthermore, URA has expanded its service centers to Wakiso, Mubende, Kamuli and Kampala Boulevard within the city center in order to bring services closer to the business community. Taxpayers can also contact us through our newly launched state of the art contact center via our toll-free service helplines 0800-117000/0800-217000 or WhatsApp contact- 0772140000 which is available 24hrs.
All the above options and more are available to our esteemed taxpayers to fulfill their obligations with ease and convenience. During this festive season which coincides with the tax filing and payment deadline of 31st December, I urge you to file your returns and pay all taxes due on 31st December 2022 by Friday 30th December 2022 to enable clearance of taxes paid before the end of the year. I also urge taxpayers with outstanding taxes to settle their liability to avoid further accumulation of interest.
Sarah Chelengat is the Commissioner, Domestic Taxes at the Uganda Revenue Authority – URA.