President Kenyatta urges the Judiciary to handle tax disputes expeditiously

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President Uhuru Kenyatta and KRA Commissioner General James Githii Mburu at the 2019 annual taxpayers day. Photo/PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta and KRA Commissioner General James Githii Mburu at the 2019 annual taxpayers day. Photo/PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for a faster handling of tax disputes in order to set the tax department in order. Speaking when he presided over the 16th annual taxpayers’ luncheon organized by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), he said over 1000 legal cases with disputed tax of over Kshs 300 billion are awaiting hearing and determination at the tax appeal tribunal and other superior Courts, “….Representing a significant bottleneck in the tax administration process,” he said.

In a statement that came across as a jibe to the Judiciary a day after Chief Justice David Maraga decried the contemptuous treatment of the Judiciary, he said, amidst giggles from those present, the Judiciary should determine the cases expeditiously, “I call on the Judiciary, if they so desire, to strove to determine expeditiously tax disputes without fear or favor..both taxpayers and the tax authority deserve quick hearings to know the outcome of their cases within the shortest time possible.” He said a new tax appeal tribunal is now in place, and that he expects a report form them in three months on what they’ve done to expedite the tax disputes cases.

He further faulted tax evaders, saying tax evasion has long been glorified in Kenya. He said those who evade paying taxes are the ones who complain and expect first class services from the government, ignoring the fact that the taxpayers contribute significantly to these. He said there have been increased prosecutions against tax evaders and going forward, advisors and facilitators of tax evasion will also come into focus and face prosecution. He directed the National Treasury, KRA, the office of the Attorney General and other relevant agencies to review tax laws and come up with a legal framework to aid in efficient collection and administration of taxes. The President also shifted focus to whistleblowers, saying the government is wiling to hear from whistleblowers who are willing to give accurate information to the authorities that yield additional tax collections.