The music is about to be put on pause for Kenyans on social media who portray flashy and lavish lifestyles, as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) intends to follow up on their timelines, and countercheck with tax records to see whether they are compliant. The taxman notes that there is a growing number of Kenyans who are displaying expensive lifestyles online but are barely paying taxes.
“In the social media, we have some people posting some nice things. You would see some posting nice houses, cars, taking their families to nice places, and so on. Here, we are not sleeping, when we see those, we see taxes,” says KRA Commissioner-General Githii Mburu.
KRA has been on an aggressive mission to curb tax cheats and evaders and increase their collection through various methods. Just last year, they launched a service called iWhistle that offers a commission to any Kenyan who report tax offenses including fraud and evasion schemes among others.
These efforts by KRA look successful so far, considering their recent report where they exceeded the revenue collection target for this year by Sh27 billion. In October alone, they collected Sh154.3 billion against an initial target of Sh142.2 billion.
A team of KRA officers will now be scouring the internet from Facebook to Instagram and even Snapchat to identify these seemingly high net-worth individuals who have cultivated an expensive image through luxurious items and parties.
The KRA Commissioner-General also added that there are also many who are accumulating wealth and are building houses, purchasing homes, and driving heavy fuel consumption vehicles on the road. KRA will employ databases that take a look at relevant details from the bank, imports, power and water bill records, and even car registration details to curb them if they are tax evaders.
“We have our officers looking, they have gadgets. They key in very quickly (the number plate) to check. We are working exceptionally hard,” Mr. Mburu states.
This is an interesting development coming amid the government’s increased surveillance of online platforms in Kenya for other issues like social media bullying. This one is being done by the National Computer and Cybercrime Coordination Committee (NC4) that includes representatives from various institutions including KDF, the National Police Service and the Central Bank,