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KRA Headquarters at Times Tower in Nairobi. /CFM-FILE.

Fifth Estate

Annual Tax Summit: bedrock of ideas for enhancing tax administration

Tax is arguably one of the few disciplines whose impact touches on every citizen in one way or the other. Actually, besides death, Benjamin Franklin said that the only other certain thing in life is tax.

Taxes constitute the bulk of resources required to run any country in the world. Though taken for granted most of the times, revenue mobilised through tax payment is the key enabler for government to offer crucial services which citizens would not be able to fund individually.

It is on the backdrop of the many lives tax payment touches that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has continued to promote public participation on matters tax through various platforms. One such platform is the annual tax summit where great ideas and insights are shared for the betterment of tax administration in this country. 

This year’s tax summit is the sixth in a row since inception of this crucial event. The Tax Summit is part of the main activities and events in the annual Taxpayers Month, the month when KRA recognises and awards taxpayers for their outstanding contribution in nation building.  Due to the prevailing conditions, the tax summit will be held virtually for two days from 4th to 5th November, 2020.

Adaptation to the new normal, which has been occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, will be part of key discussions during the Sixth Tax Summit. Since the first case was reported in the country, the adverse effects of the pandemic have been felt far and wide. The pandemic has not spared tax administration either as it has led to less productivity in the various sectors that generate tax revenues.

Themed “Enhancing tax administration for economic stability”, the Sixth Tax Summit, just like the previous tax summits, will bring together global experts, tax practitioners, academia, private sector players and senior government officials. Although KRA is the principal tax administrator in the country, there is always a need to source and pool varied ideas on how to best improve tax administration in our country.

The annual tax summit avails a public participation platform for stakeholders drawn from various sectors of the economy to engage and come up with ideas on the best way to enhance tax administration in our country. Notably, given the instrumental role tax revenues play, the success of tax administration does not rest on the taxman alone; the responsibility extends to every citizen. Apart from discussing the paradigm shift occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sixth Annual Tax Summit seeks to develop new areas of partnership between KRA and various stakeholders with a common goal of achieving the objectives set out in

the big four agenda. The objectives of the big four agenda are a hallmark of landmark socio-economic transformation in Kenya.

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Achievement of these objectives requires mobilisation of domestic resources to make this dream come true. It is against this backdrop that it is then crucial for KRA to engage various stakeholders and deliberate on the possible avenues to mobilise enough resources to fund our country’s dreams.

Going by various statistics, Kenya’s potential to mobilise revenue is unmatched. The 2019/2020 financial year’s performance was testament to this position. Despite the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to the economy and the resultant tax reliefs granted to cushion Kenyans, KRA still managed to collect Ksh.1.607 trillion. This was remarkable improvement compared to 2018/2019 where Ksh.1.580 trillion was raised. This exemplifies the immense potential within our economy.

In addition, this year’s tax summit will give stakeholders an opportunity to develop innovative insights whose implementation will address thorny issues such as illicit trade. A vice like illicit trade is not only a threat to effective revenue mobilisation but also a threat to a broader spectrum of other areas which touch on members of the public.

For example, illicit trade stages uneven ground for legitimately operating businesses. It also exposes unsuspecting consumers to potentially hazardous products. Given the magnitude, KRA has continued to put in place various mechanism to address the menace. These mechanisms range from strategic partnerships with various government agencies to technological advancement. The tax summit is one of the most apt platforms where additional ideas and insights can be raised to collectively address such vices.

KRA therefore invites members of the public to take part in the Sixth Tax Summit and share their thoughts on the best way to improve tax administration in Kenya. Every idea or thought shared is invaluable and will go a long way in making our country better.The writer is the Head of Marketing and Communication at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)

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