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KRA, Police plan random road checks in tax dodging fight

A truck that was intercepted by police along Waiyaki Way on February 23, 2015. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG
A truck that was intercepted by police along Waiyaki Way on February 23, 2015. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Rogue long distance truckers have been put on notice as the Police and customs officials join forces to mount impromptu road inspection points along the Mombasa-Malaba highway in a bid to curb tax evasion.

The authorities will be on the look out for cargo that has been tampered with while on transit to neighbouring countries.

More than 2,000 officers, who will be positioned along the Kenyan corridor, have been allowed to mount checkpoints anywhere targeting cargo trucks headed to Uganda and Rwanda.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) North Rift regional coordinator Florence Otory said the checks will complement the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) implemented in March this year.

“The checks will be mounted anywhere. Sometimes when the drivers know where the checkpoints are they may try to avoid them but now we have a good number of officers along the corridor who will be doing impromptu checks,” she said yesterday.

E-monitoring

The electronic monitoring system will be managed centrally by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda - making it easier for the countries' respective agencies to tackle malpractices.

The move will also help combat fuel adulteration and siphoning that have posed a challenge to the taxman as some transporters collude with unscrupulous traders to divert the commodity or tamper with quality.

Siphoned fuel is often sold in backstreets, blocking the taxman from collecting any revenue on it.

With RECTS, a magnetic gadget is attached on the container’s rear before the lorry leaves Mombasa port.

It contains information on the cargo as well as lorry registration details and the driver’s contacts.

Any diversion from the transit route is viewed from the command centre in the three countries' capitals, where a team of customs officials and police on patrol at different check points are poised to respond to violations flagged by the system.

Widen tax net

Meanwhile, the KRA is pushing more residents in the North Rift to file their returns, saying the agency is targeting at least four million more taxpayers in its six counties by end of this financial year.

“KRA has embarked on a project where we want to build trust . . . we are meeting common wananchi on the ground to give them opportunity to file returns, answer their queries and importantly know the importance of filing their returns,” Ms Otory said while flagging off a mobile taxpayer services unit at the Eldoret regional office on Tuesday.

The official observed that the mobile unit will traverse Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot counties to sensitise residents on issues around tax filing and payment.

“This excludes Turkana County, which we will tackle later. As you are aware, KRA has enhanced penalties for those who fail to file returns to Sh20,000. We urge Kenyans to come and take advantage of this opportunity to file their taxes,” she said.

The taxman has raised the penalty for late filing of returns by 20 times, saying it will now fine taxpayers Sh20,000 up from Sh1000.

The penalties were enacted under the Tax Procedures Act number 29 of 2015 but KRA has previously not implemented them.

Mr Jonah Cheptogoch, manager in charge of KRA's domestic tax department in the region, said Monday that the initiative is in line with the spirit of devolution.

“This targets groups such as the county government employees and other civil servants. This will enable them to file individual or company returns as well as register or update their current KRA pins,” he said.

According to the taxman, between January 1 and June 8 last year, the iTax platform processed returns worth Sh280 billion.

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