Taxpayers' homes have become the taxman’s new hunting ground as the crackdown on tax cheats took a new turn to ride on technology.
President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday directed the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to use the Sh3 billion biometric data listing kit that will collect citizens’ details like ear, eye and voice alongside satellite details of their homes to locate and smoke out tax cheats.
“The use of technology as an enabler is an immediate necessity and KRA must incorporate cutting edge technology in all aspects of its operations from customer care to detection of tax evasion. Use of big data to detect revenue trends and to detect leakages should be the norm,” said Mr Kenyatta during the KRA 2018 Taxpayers’ Day in Nairobi that recognises compliant taxpayers countrywide.
"I therefore expect that KRA will leverage the benefits of the soon to be rolled out National Integrated Identity Management System as another tool in their arsenal.”
Kenya plans to conduct a fresh mass registration this year using the proposed National Integrated Identity Management System that will be a single source of personal information of all Kenyans and registered foreigners.
Under the system adults applying for documents such as IDs will be required to provide additional information about their location, including land reference number, plot number or house number.
The system will also see the introduction of Global Positioning System (GPS) co-ordinates in the registration of persons, enabling the tracking of citizens’ location via satellite.
Unique personal attributes such as fingerprints, hand and earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns and voice waves will be kept in the digital database and physical form.
ICT secretary Joe Mucheru had early October said the registration will help improve planning, delivery of social services and security in the country.
“The registration process will start this year. It will be conducted by the Interior ministry and will start at the sub-location level,” Mr Mucheru had said, adding that 45 million Kenyans will be registered biometrically so that everyone will have a single and unique identity.
Mr Kenyatta also directed the KRA to turn its guns on wealthy citizens who are dodging tax.
“High net worth individuals whose lifestyles are not reflective of the taxes that they pay must be compelled to demonstrate their sources of wealth and to contribute their share of taxes accordingly,” said Mr Kenyatta.
A recent report showed how the Kenyan super rich use offshore bank accounts to evade taxes.
“We continue to place heavy duty on taxpayers to comply with the law. However, there is an equal expectation that those charged with the duty of tax collection do not use their positions of influence to engage in extortion or acts of complicity with tax evaders,” said the President who also officially launched the KRA’s regional electronic cargo tracking system and the integrated scanner command centre, which are expected to improve efficiency for the taxman in detecting cargo concealments through mis-declaration of quantities.
The President also ordered for speedy conclusion in a longstanding lifestyle audit for top KRA officials to ensure they are not abusing their positions.
KRA announced last month that it would mine data from hospital payrolls, the National Construction Authority records and telecoms firms in its ongoing crackdown on tax cheats.
The agency, which is facing a mountainous task of raising enough revenues to finance Mr Kenyatta’s Sh2.97 trillion budget, is hoping that information from these sources will boost its quest to unearth undisclosed income sources and boost its revenue collection.
Speaking at Thursday’s event, Treasury secretary Henry Rotich said Treasury has completed overhaul of the Income Tax Act and prepared a new Income Tax Bill, 2018 in order “to simplify and modernize the Act, expand the tax base, and enhance equity and progressivity.”
“This Bill is currently undergoing legal drafting by the Attorney-General before seeking its approval from the Cabinet. We shall subsequently submit the same to the Parliament for enactment,” he said.
KRA commissioner-general John Njiraini said the agency is turning to use of technology to bring more Kenyans on board and expand the tax base.
By applying this strategy, KRA anticipates to net an additional 500,000 taxpayers from whom it expects to collect approximately Sh60 billion in the current year, Mr Njiraini had earlier said.
During the event several firms including Dalbit Petroleum, Tusker Mattresses, Kenafric Industries among others were feted as “compliant taxpayers.”