KENYA WILL GET ELECTRONIC TAX RETURNS BY 2008

Computing

Next year could see the last gatherings of crowds as Kenya Revenue Authority employees gather their annual paper mountains.Taxpayers will be able to file their returns electronically by June 2008, Commissioner General, Michael Waweru has said. He said the authority has speeded up plans to go digital and would ensure the infrastructure needed was up and running within the next 18 months. "Once operational, businesses and individuals who already have computer systems in place will be able to submit their tax returns via the Internet and call up their tax file online whenever they want," he said.

Waweru said KRA would then expect a marked reduction in the long queues that form at its offices in June each year as people rush to file their annual tax returns. Also expected to fall substantially are queues seen in KRA halls on the 20th of every month as companies file their Value Added Tax (VAT) returns.

Waweru was speaking after opening a workshop in Nairobi on taxpayer's services and ruling regimes. The event is organised jointly by KRA and the International Monetary Fund's East African Technical Assistance Centre (IMF East AFRITAC). All the IMF East Afritac countries - Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Malawi and Eritrea - are attending the one-week workshop. Also present at the function was the IMF Afritac co-ordinator, Mr Justin Zake.

Waweru said KRA was also in discussion with ministry of Education to introduce lessons on taxation in the school curriculum as part of the tax reforms it started in 2003.

Since the reforms started the authority has reported improved revenue collections and companies are competing to win awards as leading taxpayers and advertise the same in the local media. For example, Government revenue in the first two months of the fiscal year 2006/07 amounted to Sh47.9 billion against a target of Sh58.2 billion, but way above the Sh39 billion realised in a similar period last year. This represented a revenue growth of Sh8.9 billion or 22.7 per cent, according last month's Central Bank of Kenya Monthly Economic Review.

The East African Standard