The High Court in Kenya has allowed the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to compel every taxpayer to provide details of their phone data, including M-Pesa statements for wealth that has not been disclosed during the annual tax returns.
Activists Okiya Omtatah had moved to court to challenge Sections 57, 58 (2), 59 and 99 of the Tax Procedures Act that allowed Kenya Revenue Authority to access the premises of taxpayers, phone records and data and their other electronic gadgets in an effort to catch those who cheat.
KRA will now be permitted to demand phone records from taxpayers, access computers or any other record within the premises to ascertain claims of tax payment.
According to Okiya Omtatah, allowing KRA to access phones of individual taxpayers amounted to an infringement of the right to privacy as provided in the Constitution of Kenya.
“There is sufficient and substantial reason for the limitation of the right (to privacy), as KRA’s mandate to ensure that all citizens abide by the laws relating to taxes and where they fail to do so, they are properly brought to justice with sufficient evidence to support the allegation,” Justice Weldon Korir of the Hight Court ruled.
Businessmen and women who use the Lipa Na M-Pesa are telling their customers to pay in cash and not through mobile in a move that is likely to affect businesses.
Accessing Premises In Mombasa
During the week, in Mombasa, officers from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) are moving from one office to another “collecting data.” Among those that the officials from KRA are visiting in Mombasa are businesses, offices, and landlords.
“Kenya Revenue Authority, Domestic Tax Department is carrying out Block Management Systems (BMS), an exercise of visiting Taxpayers, LANDLORDS, and BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS at their business premises for collection of details pertaining to their businesses,” stated part of the introduction letter from KRA.