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

Fifth Estate

Tax Summit – a bedrock of transformative ideas in tax administration

In every jurisdiction world over, tax administration squarely fits the profile of  a matter of national and public interest. It is a subject that calls for due consideration to the publics’ views, ideas and input before a tax policy can be implemented or changing an existing one.

Public participation assumes various forms. The most common and popular form of public participation is the mandatory constitutional requirement where the public is invited to take part in a given cause. The other form of public participation is stakeholder engagement spearheaded by administrators, implementers or regulators of laws and policies.

The latter form of public participation has been fundamental to the Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA) tax administration enhancement endeavours not only in Kenya but also in the region. In addition to the regular stakeholder engagements with various publics, KRA took these engagements a notch higher and birthed the annual tax summit concept seven years ago. The tax summit constitutes one of the key activities and events that characterise KRA’s annual taxpayers’ month celebrations marked in the month of October.

The annual tax summit is a two-day forum that brings together the public, think tanks from various sectors, academicians, policy experts from across the world, public sector players, policy makers and private sector players to the table for candid deliberations on opportunities and solutions to the existing tax administration hurdles.

The 2021 annual tax summit is the seventh in a row and is slated for 13th and 14th October. This year’s summit is pillared on the theme; Revenue Mobilization Within a Rapidly Evolving Taxation Landscape: Global Trends, Analyses & Resolutions. Notably, domestic revenue mobilisation is the denominator source of government revenue. However, in the recent past, the capacity to mobilise enough domestic resources has come under a serious threat following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In its wake, the pandemic has continued to leave a trail of destruction in the very environment that generates revenue.

Eventually, the pandemic has thrust us all outside the box to seek for alternative ways of conducting business. Brick and mortar business enterprises which had probably shied away from going digital, for instance, have had no option but to consider realigning their business models to the contemporary times in order to remain afloat. With most businesses opening shop online, there has been a need for the tax administration to rethink realignment of tax policies to suit the new business models.

The tax summit is among the most ideal arenas where such ideas are birthed. Notably, the newly introduced Digital Service Tax (DST) was a key topic in the last summit. This came against a backdrop of a proliferation of businesses in the digital market place. The input from that summit was therefore key in the formulation of DST policy guidelines.

This year’s summit will focus on KRA’s readiness to reimagine tax administration past the Covid-19 pandemic, developing tax professionals for the future and tackling illicit financial inflows and their impact on Africa’s development. The summit will also focus on the role of technology, brand awareness, and tax simplification in enhancing service delivery. The three factors are among the key pillars on which the success of a modern tax administration is pegged.

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The forum will therefore create an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback with respect to the measures that KRA has already put in place to enhance service delivery. Have these measures borne any fruits? What more does KRA need to do to scale up customer satisfaction in the delivery of its mandate?  Have these factors succeeded in other jurisdictions? Feedback to such questions will constitute a blueprint which will inform KRA’s next move in the improvement of service delivery.

As alluded to earlier, successful execution of tax administration processes has never and will never be a one-man band. It entails listening to stakeholders and benchmarking with those who have already surmounted various tax administration challenges.

The deliberations made at the annual tax summits yearly are invaluable to KRA and other players involved in the making and implementation of tax policies. Just like the previous tax summit fora, the seventh annual tax summit will avail a platform for sharing tax ideas, innovations and strategies that have successfully worked in other jurisdictions across the world.

KRA therefore invites all stakeholders to take part in this crucial event where their contribution to the enhancement journey of the tax administration process stands to count. Indeed, as guided by this year’s taxpayers’ month theme, pamoja twaweza!

Stakeholders can follow summit’s proceedings on:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1F0UQ-ZcSUyfqzh0uk9HiA

The writer is the Head of Marketing and Communication Department at KRA.

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