The other day, we learned that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) was planning to hone it tax-collecting practices by digging into mobile money data. We have confirmed that this development, while lacking in terms of legislation, will see the light of days as the Government has started collecting and analyzing mobile-based financial data troves from mobile service providers.
According to ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, KRA has a legal mandate to get access to and use transaction data held by telcos and other finance-based institutions such as banks and fintech firms as the tax collector aims to hit projected tax volumes. The CS argues that tax collection is instrumental in driving government programs, and while people have raised concerns over the data protection issues, Mucheru says the exercise will not abuse people’s privacy and protection.
As we stated in the preceding piece, the legal framework governing access to private information has is not as robust to guarantee such an abrupt decision. The grey areas appear to fall short of the government’s desperate need to achieve development goals are detailed in the Big Four Agenda, as well as national security and privacy. In other words, the government will access personal data if it helps it helps nab folks that evade KRA’s net, or if national security matters come into play.
Generally speaking, KRA seems motivated to up tax compliance practices. While Kenyans comply with their tax obligations, some are determined not to. Also, KRA insists that tax evasion and tax fraud continue to occur and has been substantial, amounting to billions in lost revenues. Not only is this illegal and defrauds the government of income, but it creates a wavy field for compliant taxpayers. However, the need to use telco data and matching them with bank accounts will rub a lot of people badly.
Lastly, the details of how the system will be able to catch tax cheats have not been revealed. We will update this post once we learn more.