The taxman has deployed Revenue Service Assistants (RSA) in a move that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) says will “support taxpayers with their compliance needs.”
A key role of the RSAs is to streamline and simplify the online registration process for trading businesses. They are tasked with registering businesses in the formal tax system, thereby widening the tax bracket as the taxman moves to collect Kes2.7 trillion in revenue for the FY2023/24
Further, RSAs are entrusted with the task of verifying taxpayer information to ensure the accuracy of data and adherence to the Electronic Tax Invoice Management System (eTIMS) regulations, which are essential for maintaining a transparent and accountable tax environment.
Prior to their deployment, these 1400 newly recruited staff members underwent a training program including paramilitary skills. They also covered technical tax modules such as Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs regulations, and the intricacies of KRA’s business systems.
According to KRA, RSAs play a pivotal role in supporting traders in their efforts to comply with excise regulations. This support contributes significantly to fostering a more robust and compliant tax environment, benefitting both the government and taxpayers.
They will also help collecting data that is critical to tax compliance and revenue collection. Taxpayers are encouraged to authenticate the details of RSAs through various channels, including dialing *572#, using the KRA Thibitisha platform, or utilizing the KRA Mservice App. This verification process is designed to provide assurance to taxpayers and ensure that they are not dealing with conmen.
In a September 18, 2023 notice to taxpayers, the KRA urged the public to “feel free to approach them (RSA), say hello, and let them know how they can assist you.”
Support and guidance to meet tax obligations
For the two months through August, the KRA collected Kes317.58 billion in taxes, marking a 13.33 percent growth compared to Kes280.23 billion during the same period last year. However, this growth rate is the slowest in three years, as it had grown by 13.37 percent during the corresponding period the previous year.
The deployment of RSAs could be a step towards addressing this slowdown while ensuring that taxpayers receive the support and guidance they need to meet tax obligations.
In May, President William Ruto lectured KRA management over what he labelled as “tiresome drama.”
“It has also been noted that KRA has not embraced a culture of supporting and facilitating taxpayers, alternative dispute resolution and the deployment of efficient technologies to improve revenue performance,” Dr Ruto noted when he filed his annual tax returns.
“KRA must stop the tiresome drama of pretending to be fighting with stakeholders over new technology and avoid irritating Kenyans with proposals to spend billions of shillings on irrelevant projects. Kenyans expect no less, deserve no less and are entitled to no less,” he said.