Betting firms set to remit taxes via M-Pesa under new system


Kenyans staked a record Sh88.5 billion through online bets in the full year to June 2023. FILE PHOTO | POOL

An estimated 137 online bookmakers are set to remit betting taxes on a real-time basis to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) via Safaricom’s mobile-money platform M-Pesa.

The betting firms will be required to fully onboard their systems with those of the KRA by May 12 when real-time remittance of the betting taxes fully takes effect.

On Monday, KRA linked to the systems of 20 new betting firms bringing the total number of integrated bookmakers to 36 after the initial inclusion of 16 betting firms in a pilot that began last October.

Betting firms as a prerequisite to the May 12 go-live date are required to develop an M-Pesa pay tax application programming interface and a data transmission service to initiate the real-time tax remittances.

Integration testing for the M-Pesa pay service is expected to run between April 25 and May 5 after which KRA, betting companies and Safaricom are expected to sign off on non-disclosure agreements.

Safaricom is expected to support the bulk payments by the bookmakers via the recently launched Daraja service, a programming interface that creates a bridge for payment integration to web and mobile applications.

The KRA says the choice of Safaricom’s M-Pesa was informed by the telco’s readiness for the integration at the piloting of the new system, which seeks to allow for daily tax remittances and real-time data transmission.

“Safaricom was readily available to work with us on the pilot. However, it’s not just Safaricom as this is open to other providers,” said KRA acting commissioner general Risper Simiyu.

Betting firms will be required to compute betting taxes after midnight every day and remit the same to the taxman by 7am the following morning via the KRA’s pay bill numbers.

The remittances cover excise duty, calculated at the rate of 7.5 percent of the amount wagered by punters and withholding tax on betting winnings, charged at the rate of 20 percent.

The integration of systems between the two organisations aligns with the government's goal of collecting revenue at the source.

KRA says the linkage will yield benefits to not just itself from a standpoint of higher revenue but also to bookmakers in the form of ease in tax compliance.

“From the KRA side we will get visibility and credibility while bookmakers will benefit from increased compliance and reduced costs. From where we sit, we hope we can move with speed so that we are all working from the same book,” added Mrs Simiyu.

So far, the tax man has already recorded a rise in the collection from the betting taxes with nettings rising by 29 percent to Sh6.6 billion between November 1 and April 16 from a previous comparable period.

In addition to propping revenues from the betting industry, the systems integration is also premised on stamping out rogue industry operatives.

Previous to the real-time data transmission and tax remittance, betting taxes were to be paid on the 20th day of the month following the month of collection.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.