Economy

1.5m Kenyans beat corona lockdowns to file tax returns

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KRA commissioner for domestic taxes Elizabeth Meyo at a past event. FILE PHOTO | NMG

About 40 percent of taxpayers have filed tax returns ahead of the June 30 deadline as digital platforms allow Kenyans to beat the corona-induced lockdowns.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) commissioner for domestic taxes Elizabeth Meyo told the Business Daily Thursday that more than 1.53 million Kenyans had filed their tax returns by May 14 against a target of 3.8 million taxpayers.

This compares favourably with the 1.58 million people who filed within the same time last year.

The KRA has been processing up to 40,000 filings daily, it reported Thursday.

The taxman estimates that the daily returns will triple as the deadline approaches.

She said due to the outbreak of coronavirus, which has occasioned minimal walk-in visits to public places as a safety measure, the taxman has put in place the necessary measures to help taxpayers file returns online.

“KRA has a dedicated team at the call centre that offer real-time assistance to taxpayers on social media platforms. The team also responds to any query through the phone,” said Ms Meyo.

The taxman has in the previous years extended its working hours at all iTax Support and Huduma centres to accommodate individuals rushing to beat the deadline at the last minute.

The move is aimed at facilitating more Kenyans to beat the penalties as prescribed in the law.

Under the Tax Procedures Act of 2015, the KRA has powers to order employers to deduct the penalties and tax dues from workers’ salary.

Companies face a penalty of Sh20,000 or five percent of the tax payable in the year the return is meant to capture, or whichever is higher.

Filling tax returns has emerged as one of the taxman’s preferred way to netting tax cheats and growing the income tax segments amid struggles to meet collection targets.

The law requires anyone with a PIN to file their annual returns irrespective of their employment status.

The taxman has failed to meet revenue targets in recent years on tax defaulters and a small tax bracket that fails to capture the self-employed and those working in the informal sector.