KRA hooks second batch of top 10 betting firms on its system


Times Tower in Nairobi, the headquarters of Kenya Revenue Authority. FILE PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

The taxman has hooked the second batch of the top 10 betting companies on its system, bringing the total number of companies it has real-time access to, to 16 as it scales up the fight against tax cheats in the sector.

The taxman told Business Daily in an e-mail interview that the real-time payments and data transmission for the rest will commence by Friday this week.

Those hooked on its system are required to compute and pay taxes due every day, a departure from the past when most taxes were paid in the next month after they fell due.

“This phase is focusing on the delivery of real-time data transmission over and above daily payment transmission,” said Rispah Simiyu, Kenya Revenue Authority’s Commissioner, Domestic Taxes.

The taxman says this will allow it to have visibility of real-time betting transactions after it starts receiving all information on betting including the amount of money staked and won by punters as it moves to collect more revenues.

KRA says the visibility of real-time betting transactions and unavailability of betting and gaming transactions data was the key challenge it faced in the fight against tax cheats in the betting industry.

“With integration, the daily visibility is providing daily trends upon which compliance measures can be taken,” said Ms Simiyu.

She added that the integration is being done in batches of taxpayers in two phases — daily tax remittances and real-time data transmission.

The first batch of the top six payers started daily remittances of excise and withholding tax on winnings in mid-November 2022 after a successful pilot.

This comes days after it emerged that six betting firms have been remitting to KRA excise and withholding taxes on stakes and winnings respectively daily by 1am.

This is part of KRA’s integration of its system with that of the betting sector, with the first phase, which began in mid-November, being the daily collection of the 7.5 percent excise duty on stakes and the 20 per cent withholding tax on winnings from these companies.

The integration of the two systems is just one of the reforms under the revenue administration aimed at sealing all the tax leakages in the lucrative sports betting sector and improving revenue collection from the gambling craze.

“It is expected that data integration will yield additional revenues upon verification of the data transmitted. Transmission of real-time data is expected by end of January 2023 from taxpayers who have been brought on board,” said Ms Simiyu.

She added that the KRA would verify the data as soon as it receives it to see whether it matches the taxes paid by the betting companies.

Treasury PS Chris Kiptoo in his presentation on January 11, during the launch of the three-day public sector hearings, noted that the Treasury, jointly with the KRA, is making improvements on tax administrative measures to ensure revenue collection remains on target.

One of the ways these improvements are being made is through the integration of the KRA system with the betting Sector.

These far-reaching changes are aimed at helping the taxman to plug into their platforms to allow real-time computation of taxes, as the government moves to tame rogue entities in the sector.

“The rollout is being done in a phased approach starting with the companies that paid the highest revenues in total betting tax collected in FY 2021/22,” said Ms Simiyu.

SportPesa, one of the largest sports betting companies, piloted the exercise in mid-November last year before it was rolled out to other five companies. The six large taxpayers fall in the first phase.

The second batch will target the next top 10 payers before eventually being extended to the pending taxpayers who are contributors of about 10 percent of KRA’s collections in the betting and gaming sector.

The third and final phase is expected to be completed in the third quarter of the financial year.

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