President Uhuru Kenyatta has commended all compliant taxpayers for their high sense of civic duty and fidelity to the tax laws that has afforded the country funds to stave off the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic’s social and economic effects.
The President also applauded the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for maintaining its tradition of excellence in tax administration despite the ongoing challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am pleased to note some of the measures the Kenya Revenue Authority has taken to ensure its relationship with the taxpayer is not adversarial or fraught with antagonism, for it is KRA’s solemn duty to facilitate economic activity, trade and our shared prosperity,” the President said.
President Kenyatta made the remarks today in a recorded video address during the 2020 National Taxpayer’s Day.
To support the KRA in delivering its mandate in a manner that is not antagonistic with its tax clients, the President said the Government has facilitated a programme of digitization within the tax agency since the beginning of his Administration.
“Under this programme, the Authority has adopted innovations such as the hugely successful iTax platform and the recently launched M-Service App that enables a taxpayer to pay their taxes through mobile devices.
“Taxpayers now do not need to travel long distances or rely on third-party support vendors to fulfill their tax obligation,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State also commended KRA on the launch of i-Whistle, an online platform that enables the public to report on tax malpractices including fraud, concealment and unethical behaviour by some KRA Staff.
He said this marks another milestone in entrenching the ethos of good governance as part of the country’s social fabric as well as the fight against corruption and tax evasion.
President Kenyatta added that the web-based system will ensure incidences of tax evasion by taxpayers or unethical conduct by some KRA staff are recorded, investigated and acted upon.
“This will improve the trust and confidence of taxpayers in the tax system as well as allowing the State to dramatically reduce revenue leakage and recover taxes that had been lost,” he pointed out.
To boost utilization of the i-Whistle system, the President directed the National Treasury and KRA to amend the informer reward scheme so as to increase the reward amount from the current maximum of Ksh 2 million to Ksh 5 million.
He also asked KRA and its partners in the multi-agency framework to maintain their vigilance against tax evasion schemes, particularly those designed and orchestrated by professional service providers and financial institutions.
To secure the livelihoods and protects Kenyans from harmful products, the President said the Government has put in place a multi-agency framework, which KRA is a member, to fight smuggling and counterfeits.
“I urge the Kenya Revenue Authority to step up its efforts in that regard and to work even closer with its multi-agency partners,” he said.
To streamline tax dispute resolution, President Kenyatta directed the National Treasury and the Attorney General to review the legal and operational framework of the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT).
He also ordered a review of the onward appeals to the superior courts as well as the provisions of the Tax Procedures Act so as to ensure tax disputes are resolved in a more efficient manner.
Speaking during the occasion, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said his ministry is working closely with KRA to improve revenue collection by instituting diverse revenue enhancement measures.
The CS pointed out that implementation of progressive revenue enhancement initiatives has already led to more than double revenue collection since 2013.
“In the just concluded financial year (FY 2019/20), revenue collected amounted to Ksh 1.6 trillion, which was a strong performance given the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic,” said the Treasury CS.
He expressed optimism that more revenues will be realised as business activities and the general economy picks, saying the revenue growth will be partly supported by the full implementation of the fiscal and tax policy measures.
Other speakers included the KRA Chairman Amb. Francis Muthaura and the Commissioner-General James Githii Mburu.