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Thursday, August 17, 2017

There’s more to KRA than taxation

It is not in doubt that KRA is one of the most important entities in Kenya. Given that this is the agency that collects taxes on behalf of the government, it can convincingly be argued KRA is the lifeline of the economy. Put differently, your taxes, which flow to the economy through the veins of KRA, are the economy's lifeblood.

My feeling, though, is that KRA is occasionally misunderstood or, perhaps, under-understood. Little is reported out there about the many facilitative roles KRA plays to keep businesses and the economy running. Of course all these roles are hinged on KRA’s core business, which is to collect taxes.

Kenyans are, therefore, unable to navigate the amazingly interesting world of KRA's facilitative roles.

KRA, fondly referred to by the media as 'the Taxman', is known more for its tax collection role than for its many other related facilitative roles.

The organisation plays many integral facilitative roles to aid the development and growth of enterprises in Kenya. There is a particularly huge opportunity for micro- and small enterprises to benefit from KRA, even as they participate in nation-building through paying taxes. Obviously, for these benefits to trickle down to an enterprise, it must be duly registered as a taxpayer.

KRA gives personalised tax and Customs advisory services to avoid situations of tax evasion that could lead to accumulation of tax penalties. KRA has established a vast network of stations within and outside our cities and towns, including in far-flung areas such as Kenya’s border points, that offer personalised guidance without a fee.

The public is also offered market and networking opportunities through KRA’s taxpayers’ round tables. This is done through the Domestic Taxes Department, Customs and Border Control Department, Strategy, Innovation and Risk Management Department, Marketing and Communication Department and KRA’s training school – the Kenya School of Revenue Administration. In such forums, the business community is invited to discuss issues affecting them and receive business advice in line with KRA’s core business.

KRA also facilitates business through various import-incentive schemes aimed at encouraging manufacturing enterprises through reduction of import tariffs on inputs such as machinery and raw materials. It is useful to have a short discussion with any of the technical officers in order to pick out some of these incentives as you venture into the import business.

Officers at KRA also facilitate your business to participate in the export space by minimising your cost of doing business. This ensures that your products remain competitive in the international market. In such cases, KRA does not levy VAT on exports. It also has a provision for capital allowances on installed machinery and a possible 20 per cent export compensation arrangement. There are certainly many other incentives that exporters can benefit from.

On training, Kesra is recognised in Africa as a premier trainer in tax, Customs and fiscal policy. It is one of the only four regional training institutions of the World Customs Organisation in Africa. Kesra trains individuals from at least 20 countries. It offers short courses, certificate, diploma, post-graduate diploma in tax and Customs (in collaboration with the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology), and master’s degree in tax and Customs administration (in collaboration with Moi University).

Always remember that behind the walls of KRA sits a team of patriotic, dedicated and deeply concerned Kenyans who work long hours to help you prosper and enable the country to build more hospitals, schools, roads, rails and ports. This eventually improves your well-being and helps your business to grow and move this country forward.

Dr Mwirigi is the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Academics at the Kenya School of Revenue Administration, Kenya Revenue Authority’s premier training school.

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