The Kenya Revenue Authority collected Sh324.81 billion more in tax revenue in the 11 months through May than in the same period last fiscal year, according to Treasury data. This was partly made possible by the taxman’s strategy to monitor Kenyan’s internet activities.
Last year, KRA announced that it would start monitoring Kenyans’ social media activities with the intention of capturing tax evaders.
According to the most recent exchequer filings by Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani, total tax receipts amounted to nearly Sh1.64 trillion between July 2021 and May 2022, up from Sh1.31 trillion the previous year.
The jump can be attributed to KRA’s adoption of a robust Intelligence Network to penetrate corruption and tax evasion cartels amid a recovering economy.
Tax consultants expect that the KRA will be more aggressive in pursuing wealthy tax evaders in the coming months, following the announcement of plans to establish a digital forensic laboratory to mine data from records on taxpayers’ computers and smartphones.
The notice to potential suppliers revealed the Taxman’s plans to access “e-mails, texts, video, audio, image files, and other transactional data on hard disks and other storage media”
“When KRA put up an RFP (request for proposal) for a cyber-security solution for snooping on your social media account like WhatsApp status, it means lifestyle audit will be a thing that KRA will rely on a lot to raise revenue,” Philip Muema, a partner at a tax and business advisory firm, Andersen Kenya said.
“It will be a bit tough for businesses … because there will be increased scrutiny from a revenue perspective. More people will be brought into the tax net.”
KRA also stepped up scrutiny to net in tax cheats by collaborating with detectives and other enforcement and intelligence agencies. These include the National Intelligence Service, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Financial Reporting Centre, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
“We are a rich country and that’s the reality. We just need to tighten the screws and close revenue leakages,” Mr Muema said.