Government to track your bank and mobile cash transactions

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In order to finance the 2018/19 sh2.97 trillion budget, Kenya Revenue Authority resorted to accessing personal data in order to broaden its tax base.

The taxman is eyeing to get information from the National Construction Authority, Hospital payrolls and phone data from telecom providers to corroborate the information of individuals to ensure that the declared income is consistent with what they earn.

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Speaking during the launch of KRA’s sensitization month, commissioner general John Njiraini said the authority is employing the use of technology in order to nab tax evaders.
“The tax base expansion strategy focuses on tapping into the potential provided by technology to identify and bring into the tax net those engaged in gainful business and who ought to be paying tax, but are not.

By applying this strategy, we anticipate to net an additional 500,000 taxpayers from whom we expect to collect approximately sh600 billion in the current year,” said Njiraini.
To achieve the desires outcome, the commission says it has to gain access to data from both the public and private sector.

“Some of the databases we have targeted in the first stages include those on mobile payments and those maintained by regulatory and professional bodies,” said Njirani. 

Speaking in the same event, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said for KRA to raise the anticipated revenue, the integration of the data is crucial to stem out non-compliance.

“The use of i-Tax system will help detect non-compliance through data matching and third party utilization,” said the CS.

Stephen Mutoro , Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) secretary general has come to fight the proposal saying that it’s a breach of rights of Kenyans to privacy as enshrined in the Constitution.

“As long as Article 31 of the Constitution of Kenya is not amended, any stature or regulation that infringes on the privacy of Kenyan consumers without a lawful court order, and in the name of hunting down tax evaders. 

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“In any case, it’s the mobile Network operators and banks that are entrusted with the privacy and confidentiality of such private data. We cannot afford to break the law in pursuit of perceived offenders,” added Mutoro. 

As Mr. Njiraini defended the move saying it has legal backing, CS Rotich called upon the integration of i-tax with the IFMIS system.

“This will make customs declaration processes more customer friendly and prevent concealment, undervaluation, misdeclaration and falsification of imports documents. This will further enable KRA identify all the persons and firms doing business with the government either at the national or at the county level,” said Rotich 

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