• Staff are expected to take continuous professional development courses, which will be provided on mobile.
• Commission says the kind of tax knowledge that has been in the public space for many years is largely general
How much do you know about your tax obligations? When should you get a tax refund and how? Which duties should you pay when you are importing merchandise? Does your employer understand the taxes that their staff should pay, and which exemptions are available for taxpayers? Commissioner of KESRA Fred Mugambi (PHD) explains why this institution, run by Kenya Revenue Authority will help sort the tax puzzle.
Who is Fred Mugambi?
I’m a KRA Commissioner and head of the Kenya School of Revenue Administration. Prior to this appointment, I served for three years as deputy commissioner. Before that, I served at JKUAT for 11 years, becoming senior lecturer and the director of their Mombasa Campus. I headed JKUAT's Mombasa Campus for seven years. Before that I taught at KEMU and worked for Kenindia Assurance. While at JKUAT I also conducted consulting assignments for GIZ, JICA, Faulu Kenya, EABL and Consumer International. I have done consultancy work in six countries.
What is Kesra and how is the institution making a difference to the function of KRA?
It is KRA's training School, accredited by Technical and Vocational Educational Training Authority (TVETA) and National Industrial Training Authority (NITA). Our core mandate is to train the 7000 KRA staff. We also offer training to the public including certificate and diplomas in tax, fiscal policy, customs, freight forwarding, postgraduate diplomas and a masters degree in tax and customs areas in partnership with JKUAT and Moi Universities. KESRA is one of four accredited training institutions of the World Customs Organization in East and Southern Africa. We also host the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regional academy on tax crimes and are the regional training partner of African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).
How do you source for students for Kesra? Are KRA staff expected to be trained at Kesra?
The need for knowledge is huge. Other than advertising for regular students, we look forward to partnering with counties to help collect their revenues too. Our staff is expected to take continuous professional development courses, which will be provided on mobile and can be accessible to staff at their workstations across the country. Some of these courses will be structured to run in a few minutes where staff can go through the material while in traffic, or in the elevator. They will then need to answer a quiz by logging on to the e-learning portal. This way, we shall know whether they engaged with the content.
Where are Kenyans getting it wrong in matters of tax, making their returns, issues of tax avoidance?
The kind of tax knowledge that has been in the public space for many years was largely general; the kind learned when one is studying for their degree or diploma. However, what you learned in class may not be sufficient when the practical part comes in, such as on how to file returns, how to calculate VAT and other requisite taxes are all about. Kesra is the institution that contextualizes your degree knowledge to international and local tax practice. Bits and pieces, bolts and nuts such as double taxation agreements, how to tax a Kenyan living abroad, tax compliance position of a company, when a company should demand a refund from KRA among other details are all tied up at Kesra.
How does Kesra work to change the attitudes of people to embrace paying taxes?
We want Kenyans to be aware, and see tax payment as a patriotic duty, and co-operate in paying their taxes. Why should the taxman be running after you to pay your taxes? We need to see those attitudes change,
Get the knowledge, for example, on what to do when importing a donation, what standard of a product to ship to Kenya.
We also want big companies such as multinationals, to think of having a tax office, which handles the details of their firms. A firm such as KTDA has a tax office, making their paperwork easy to manage.
What's Kesra's strategic plan for Kenya in the tax space and how do you expect to meet these plans?
We plan to create a learning organization, where each staff member is required to clock some hours of learning per year. This will be possible where content is delivered through micro-learning sites such as on departmental portals. We also have an agenda for Africa.
Locally, we are looking at revenue collection from the digital economies, and there are plans to have this happen in a way that their business value is calculated with a tax apportioned to these enterprises. We plan to draft an appropriate tax for oil and gas, which will be a first for the region.
Other professionals we look to get in training are judges, lawyers, and other judicial officers to help them understand tax deeper.