The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has dispatched paramilitary-trained officers to enforce tax compliance as the race to hit a revenue target of Sh2.7 trillion by the close of the current financial year hots up.
The taxman, in a notice to taxpayers, revealed that these officers, known as Revenue Service Assistants (RSAs), are embarking on a unique mission to facilitate tax-related activities directly at the doorsteps of Kenyan citizens.
This dedicated team of 1,400 officers, fresh graduates from the Kenya Defence Forces Recruits Training School in Eldoret, will play a multifaceted role in supporting the Kenya Revenue Authority's efforts.
They will not only assist with online business registration and verify taxpayers' details but also identify traders who are not registered for tax purposes.
Moreover, they will ensure that traders issue tax receipts and actively contribute to the rollout of the Electronic Tax Invoice Management System (eTIMS), a critical component for optimizing VAT revenue collection.
In a recent communication on Monday, the taxman encouraged citizens to engage with these RSAs, stating, "Feel free to approach them, say hello, and let them know how they can assist you."
Alongside enforcing tax compliance, these officers will also be tasked with collecting taxpayers' data, although the exact parameters of this data collection remain somewhat ambiguous.
Market surveillance is also an aspect of the RSAs' responsibilities.
They will conduct surveillance operations to identify non-registered traders and carry out continuous patrols to ensure that customers receive proper tax receipts from traders, promoting transparency and adherence to tax regulations.
KRA's revenue collection performance for the first two months through August stood at an impressive Sh317.58 billion, as reported by Treasury Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u. This figure reflects a growth rate of 13.33 per cent compared to the Sh280.23 billion collected during the same period in the preceding year.
However, it's important to note that this growth rate marks the slowest observed in three years. In the corresponding period of the previous financial year, revenue had grown by 13.37 per cent, and the growth rate in the July-August period of 2021 was an even more remarkable 31.42 per cent.
To meet the government's ambitious goal of generating Sh2.496 trillion in funds for the first full-year budget of the current administration, the authority aims to collect an average of Sh207.99 billion monthly on a prorated basis.
Despite the efforts of the KRA to enhance tax compliance and revenue collection, concerns have arisen regarding the tax authority's plan to conduct social media monitoring.
Experts have raised questions about the potential infringement on citizens' right to privacy as outlined in the constitution, especially in the absence of clear and well-defined guidelines for this monitoring.
As paramilitary-trained officers knock on the doorsteps of Kenyan citizens to enforce tax compliance and drive revenue collection, it remains to be seen how this unprecedented initiative will impact both individuals and businesses across the country.