[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he race to file tax returns has entered the final stretch and Remix cybercafé on Moi Avenue in Nairobi city centre is bustling with activity as Kenya Revenue Authority PIN holders rush to beat the June 30th deadline.
“It’s been like this since Monday. I can barely sit down. I am moving from computer to computer to help customers on how to access and navigate the KRA iTax system,” says Martin Mutua, the manager of Remix Cybercafe, which offers internet and related services.
The deadline for filing tax returns is Saturday midnight June 30th and Kenya Revenue Authority has said there will be no extension. This has touched off a rush by millions of Kenyans to file their returns to avoid being in the taxman’s black book and the Ksh20,000 fine that comes with late filing.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) requires all citizens with a KRA Personal Identification Number (PIN) to file their returns, including those who earn below the taxable amount – that is, a Nil Return.
As the clock ticks towards Saturday, you’d expect most people to have filed their taxes, but most Kenyans wait for the last-minute rush to take action. In fact, a great number will be tempted to wait for the last day, which can be disastrous as the system gets clogged up due to huge traffic and can cause delays and frustrations. For those yet to file, the further from the deadline the better.
This season sparks lots of activity and creates businesses for different people. From the cyber-cafes like Remix and many others across the country, to informal agents who have set up base around KRA offices at Time Tower in Nairobi and suited tax consultants, eyes are trained on June 30th.
KRA has streamlined lots of things on iTax to make it easier, like keying in just total of withholding tax certificates as opposed to uploading them physically, to name but one.
In April 2018 the taxman introduced new rules governing the filing of Nil Returns in order to reduce cases of tax evaders who file Nil Returns.
The new rules require Nil Return filers to explicitly declare that they do not have any other source of income through the online iTax platform.
According to KRA more than 1.3 million individual income tax returns for both resident and non-resident taxpayers had been filed on the iTax platform between 1st January and 5th June, 2018, an improvement from last year but still a fraction of the total number. This sets the stage for a crowded last-minute rush that you can avoid by filing way before the deadline.
KRA says your can file returns free of charge at its 38 service centres and 51 KRA Huduma Centres countrywide. Apart from the Service and Huduma Centres, taxpayers may also visit KRA regional offices countrywide for any assistance. Taxpayers who encounter challenges in filing returns are encouraged to reach out through the KRA national contact centre open from 6am to midnight.
KRA Regional offices
If you are in Nairobi and need assistance from KRA officers you can visit Railways Club or Sameer Business Park; in the North Rift region: Eldoret, Lodwar Kitale; Western Kenya: Kisumu Kakamega, Kisii, Bungoma Malaba; Central Kenya: Nyeri, Thika, Kerugoya, Nanyuki, Murang’a and Kiambu; Coast Region: Mombasa, Malindi, Voi, Ukunda; South Rift: Nakuru Naivasha, Kericho, Maralal and Nyahururu; North Eastern: Machakos, Wajir, Mandera, Kitui, Kajiado and Isiolo.