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KRA eyes more spies in tax cheats war

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KRA Commissioner-General Githii Mburu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has opened the search for additional agents to beef up its intelligence gathering and surveillance unit as former spymaster Commissioner-General Githii Mburu seeks to enhance tax compliance.

The taxman will recruit an additional 19 intelligence officers to spearhead surveillance against tax cheats.

They include managers and supervisors in charge of intelligence management operations, ethics policy analysis, human surveillance, intelligence collections and profile development.

Others posts to be filled include managers in charge of intelligence collection in various parts of the country.

The KRA said in a notice published in the newspapers the new personnel would be slotted into the existing spy unit and help the agency beef up tax compliance.

Faced with the huge task of improving revenue collection, the KRA has set eyes on suspected tax cheats and avoiders following an order from President Uhuru Kenyatta in November 2018.

As part of the crackdown, the taxman is expected to monitor high-net-worth individuals whose lifestyles are not in tandem with the taxes paid.

KRA under Mr Mburu — who previously headed its intelligence division — has been using various databases to pursue suspected cheats, including bank statements, import records, motor vehicle registration details, Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC records, water bills and data from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, which reveals individuals who own aircraft.

Motor registration details are also being used to smoke out individuals driving high-end vehicles but have little to show in terms of taxes remitted. Kenya Power meter registrations are helping the taxman identify landlords, some of whom the KRA has slapped with high tax demands.

Last year, the KRA fired 75 employees and handed them over to the police for allegedly facilitating tax evasion.

The employees included senior managers at the agency.

The agency then cited various offences including tax-related misconduct such as theft, cheating in the declaration of returns, corruption, collusion and soliciting bribes from tax cheats for sending home the staff.

Most of the staff are fighting the charges at the courts.

Sixty-one of those fired and arrested were from the domestic taxes department and 14 from customs and border control.