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KRA boss clarifies monitoring of social media & mobile money transactions

KRA acting Commissioner General Rispah Simiyu explains how the tax agency sifts through clout chasers and plans to access till numbers & pay bill numbers

KRA acting Commissioner General Rispah Simiyu during an interview on July 11, 2023

Kenya Revenue Authority acting Commissioner General Rispah Simiyu explained that the tax agency has ways to track and monitor compliance from intelligence gathering including social media and other sources.

Speaking during a media interview on July 11, Ms Simiyu said that KRA officers are able to sift through genuine cases of people living lavish lifestyles and those who propagate fake lifestyles.

We collect taxes based on intelligence and intelligence can be collected from anywhere. It can be social media, it can be what you post, it can be on publications that you have, so yes we look anywhere and everywhere we can access information,” she said.

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The acting commissioner general added that other than gathering intelligence through social media, officers also engage in background checks and investigations to determine whether the intelligence gathered on social media is actionable or clout-chasing.

This involves background checks with other agencies and sources of information and financial data.

Clout chasing refers to the act of seeking fame, influence, or attention on social media.

What that means is it's up to us. As opposed to just saying Yvonne has gone down the road to the Toyota Showroom and done a selfie and saying living large or you are in Dubai or the Maldives and you say Maldives manenos or you've gone to the airport departures and you take a selfie. KRA will not base any assessment on that. It means we need to do a little bit of groundwork,” Rispah said.

Speaking on access to Kenyans' bank accounts and mobile money transactions, the KRA boss said that currently the revenue collection authority relies on disclosure by financial stakeholders for information.

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She also revealed plans to monitor financial transactions on mobile money wallets, specifically till numbers and pay bills and not personal cash transfers.

"What we are looking at is financial transactions. When you are looking at M-PESA, before you get to the day to day transfers, there are the pay bills, till numbers," she said.

The KRA boss also gave a case where a person may force KRA scrutinize their dealings and financial transactions.

"Let me give you an example Yvonne. You are importing large goods, high-end vehicles, but remember when you're importing, it's coming through our points of entry so it means we can see it from the custom side.

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"But then when you look at it from the domestic tax side Yvonne is filing a nil return. That gives us a reason to look further," she explained.

After KRA completes the planned integration with telecommunication companies, the tax authority will also get access to more financial data.

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