There are people who, no matter how hard they bark, are never taken seriously. Then there are those we would like to never take seriously no matter what they say, no matter how loud they yell. KRA belongs to this latter group. Lately, they have been everywhere telling Kenyans that the only way they will be allowed to file their taxes will be through the iTax portal. On TV you’ll see papa Shirandula (above) and mama Wilbroda (below) telling you to file your taxes through the iTax Portal and to do it now.
The frequency with which they appear on TV made me call my KRA buddy to enquire just how serious KRA is with this iTax portal, and he told me, “dead serious”.
“What will happen to those who insist on filing taxes manually”? I asked.
“KRA will not accept their tax returns”.
“So they’ll be treated as evaders thus be penalized?”
“And by the way, does KRA understand that the iTax portal is not very straight forward? I have personally written two articles pin pointing the difficulties with the iTax System”, I asked him hoping that he’ll say that KRA is working to simplify the iTax process.
“We have received some complains but what we have realized is that most of the complains come from those who have not received any training on how to use the iTax portal. KRA is conducting iTax training every month, targeting various tax payers. Actually on 26th May between 2 and 4pm KRA will be conducting a Twitter awareness campaign on the Rental Income Tax under the hashtag #RentalIncome”, he explained.
Probably what drove me into writing that the iTax portal is a complicated system is because I really do not want the process of paying taxes to be any easier – a big probably. Who wants to pay taxes anyway? What I would rather do is to be first on Twitter and on this site to complain about traffic, dilapidated roads, and the outdated education system. I would rather whine about the never ending corruption (as if the corrupt were stealing my money), and engage in smear campaigns against some personalities I think shouldn’t hold public office (as if I contribute to their salaries and allowances) but never pay taxes. But, just as KRA is dead serious about the use of the iTax portal, so it is dead serious about tax evaders.
In a press statement sent to us, KRA explained that the target individuals who must be sensitized on filing tax returns through the iTax Portal are Employees, Self-Employed, Landlords and the Unemployed. Two groups of people in that list of target are very interesting, the formally Employed and the Unemployed.
“The formally employed do not need to file their income tax returns, do they?” I put the question to my KRA buddy who responded immediately by saying, “Oh yeah they do”.
“But the employer normally withhold their PAYE thus file the returns on their behalf?”
“Yes, but at the end of every year, on or before 30th June, each employee must make it a personal initiative to file their annual income tax returns. Think of it as telling KRA that they agree that what the employer has withheld on their behalf is accurate”, he explained.
“If they don’t they also face penalties?”
“Oh my, that means most employees are facing penalties backdated to several years”, I wondered.
Then I wanted him to explain to me why the unemployed are also required to file income tax returns yet these people are those without any form of income. According to the explanation he provided, people without any source of income are required to file NIL returns at the end of every financial year. This is because every individual with a PIN certificate is required by law to file returns, failure of which will attract penalties of no less than KSh 1000 every year.
It is indeed very clear that KRA is dead serious that every single adult Kenyan must file their tax returns, and not just doing so, but doing so via the KRA iTax Portal. KRA does realize that not every Kenyan has access to the Internet, and that not every Kenyan is Internet literate. To leverage on this, KRA has partnered with a number of cyber cafe’s across the country from where Kenyans can walk in and be guided through the process of filing taxes via the iTax Portal.
Although KRA targets to have every single adult Kenyan file their taxes, employed or not, with a source of income or not, I hope KRA is awake to the fact that majority of adult Kenyans live in extremely rural parts of the country located miles away from any town centers; that majority of these adult Kenyans can only attempt to access the mulika mwizi types of phones, and that these adult Kenyans whose sole source of income is the informal subsistence agriculture (employing some over 70% of employed Kenyans). I hope KRA is aware that to have these people pay their taxes then a better system ought to be put in place – maybe, an MPESA like, SMS based, or USSD based iTax Portal should be developed.
But if KRA does not have the motivation to pursue the millions of peasant farmers tacked away from civilization of the Internet, then I would urge them to also leave the over 10 millions of unemployed youth alone. The hawkers and other millions running informal businesses, the jua kali artisans, the mama mbogas, those who don’t know the meaning and purpose of registering a business name but are conducting businesses in the CBD, in our estates and in the back streets of our towns, should also be left alone.
But for those of you in formal employment, to those of who you who have undertaken Government assisted education, and to those of you aspiring tenderpreneurs, those of you who have registered for and received the KRA PIN certificate, kindly rush to this KRA portal for iTax and make sure that you file your income tax returns immediately, or do so before on or before 30th June 2016; otherwise KRA is coming to get you, and trust me you wouldn’t want that to happen to you in this lifetime.