Revealed: The role of KRA revenue assistants

KRA Times Tower

Times Tower, the Kenya Revenue Authority's head office in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The KRA sent the more than 1,400 employees to the doorsteps of Kenyans as it races to meet a record tax target of Sh2.4 trillion in the 2023/24 financial year.

Online registration of all businesses for tax compliance is one of the five key mandates given by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to thousands of Revenue Service Assistants (RSAs) it sent into the field last week.

The KRA sent the more than 1,400 RSAs, who graduated from the Kenya Defence Forces Recruits Training School in Eldoret last month, to the doorsteps of Kenyans as it races to meet a record tax target of Sh2.4 trillion in the 2023/24 financial year.

In a statement released today, the tax authority has outlined the key roles the RSAs are expected to play at millions of premises across the country in the coming months. 

According to the KRA, the officers will facilitate the online registration of trading businesses, verify taxpayer details and support compliance with the Electronic Tax Invoice Management System (eTIMS) regulations.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, 2013 and the VAT (Electronic Tax Invoice) Regulations, 2020 provide the legal basis for electronic tax invoicing for VAT-registered businesses.

Earlier this year, the KRA said eTIMS will help businesses reduce compliance costs, mainly by reducing the cost of purchasing multiple tax invoicing hardware, such as the Electronic Tax Register (ETR) machines.

The officers, who have received paramilitary training, will also assist with excise compliance and taxpayer data collection. 

"The RSAs will provide on-site assistance to taxpayers, which will involve physical visits to taxpayers' premises within the country," the KRA said.

It added: "The RSAs will have KRA staff identification cards and will be in uniform for ease of identification.

RSAs will conduct market surveillance to identify unregistered traders and continuous patrols to ensure that tax receipts are issued by traders to customers.

The Kenya Revenue Authority collected Sh317.58 billion in taxes in the two months to August, a growth of 13.33 per cent from Sh280.23 billion in the same period last year.

The growth rate for the same period in the 2021/2022 financial year was 31.42 per cent.

Mobilising enough tax revenue through new taxes and broadening the tax base is one of President William Ruto's key objectives to fund his debut budget of Sh3.67 trillion.

Dr Ruto's first budget has a budget deficit of Sh718 billion.

The Head of State has been keen to bring more individuals and companies into the tax net at a time when a small fraction of eligible taxpayers are shouldering the bulk of the tax burden.

The KRA collected Sh2.17 trillion in tax revenue in FY 2022/23, missing its target for the financial year by about Sh107 billion. The tax authority cited the prevailing challenging economic environment as the reason for missing the target, with traditionally strong performers such as customs duties falling short of the target.

"Feel free to approach them, say hello and let them know how they can help you," the tax authority said of RSAs in a recent notice to taxpayers dated 18 September 2023.

Last month, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung'u appointed Humphrey Wattanga as the new commissioner-general for a three-year term to oversee the KRA's revenue growth strategy.