The High Court has allowed the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to compel every taxpayer to provide details of their phone data for wealth that has not been disclosed during annual tax returns.
The ruling was issued in a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah that was challenging Sections 57, 58(2), 59 and 99 of the Tax Procedures Act that allowed KRA access to taxpayers’ premises, records and devices in a bid to catch tax cheats.
Following the ruling, KRA will be within the law to access your computers, mobile phones, records and any other place that they feel could be holding data that amounts to hidden wealth.
Omtatah in court submissions argued that the unfettered access amounted to infringement of privacy against article 31 of the Constitution of Kenya.
“There is therefore sufficient and substantial reason for the limitation of the right (to privacy), as KRA’s mandate to ensure that all citizens abide by the laws relating to taxes and where they fail to do so, they are properly brought to justice with sufficient evidence to support the allegation,” ruled Justice Weldon Korir of the High Court.
Section 58(1) of the Tax Procedures Act allows KRA at all times to have full and free access to all lands, buildings, places to inspect all goods, equipment, devices and records, whether in the custody or control of a public officer, or of a body corporate or of any other person, and may make extracts from or copies of those records.
Omtatah argued that the section was unconstitutional and should be repealed to protect citizens’ right to privacy.
Currently, KRA spies bank accounts to check any discrepancies with tax remission, without the knowledge of account holders.
On the other hand, Banks have been denying that they share clients’ data with the taxman, despite KRA admitting that they have received data from banks on several occasions to unearth tax cheats.
With a nod from the courts, KRA could step up to monitor your mobile money transactions and could possibly use the data to prosecute you for tax evasion.