On 28th April 2021, KEPSA and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) jointly hosted the 7th Tax Roundtable. The meeting was held virtually owing to the measures adopted to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The engagement was held after a series of meetings between KEPSA and KRA technical teams to tackle the administrative taxation issues affecting the private sector, agreed to escalate some of the issues to the Commissioner-General for resolution.
In her opening remarks, KEPSA CEO Ms. Carole Kariuki Karuga appreciated the strong partnerships that the roundtable has built over the years towards ensuring the easing of the Kenyan business environment and the general administration of tax. Ms. Kariuki called out for the continued partnership to strengthen the response to the effects caused by the pandemic and also to tackle the persistent pain points of the private sector such as assessments, tax refunds, and ongoing reforms of system migrations. The impact of the pandemic on most businesses had been negative and therefore, Ms. Kariuki requested the revenue authority to be patient with businesses especially as they try and recover.
The KRA Commissioner General Mr. Githii Mburu was represented by KRA Commissioner for Legal Services and Board Coordination Mr. Paul Matuku. Mr. Matuku noted that roundtable engagements enable candid discussions between KRA and the private sector in order to provide practical solutions to the various economic and taxation challenges in Kenya. Mr. Matuku articulated the Authority’s continuous support to businesses to ensure they weather the storm and recover economically amidst the pandemic. Additionally, the mitigation measures by KRA in response to Covid-19 were highlighted; some include expedited refund payments to low-risk taxpayers, optimization of non-traditional revenue streams and the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms.
KEPSA Public Finance Sector Board Vice-Chair Mr. Ashif Kassam noted that the tax administration processes needed to be aligned with the respective Acts while pointing out the need to have a clear communication framework to the general public on how the processes work to ensure transparency. He also said that the escalation framework on issues where deadlines have elapsed as stipulated by law needed to be communicated to the public.
The KEPSA Chair Mr. Nicholas Nesbitt closed by thanking members for the discussion and KRA for its commitment to improve the quality of engagement with the private sector. He added that the Authority should seek to improve its automation especially in iTax for independent users. He advised the Authority to work on facilitating a level playing field for all players so that all may commend KRA right from MSMEs to large tax administrative issues affecting the private sector taxpayers at their different levels.