Starting in 2018, Kenyans working in the diaspora must disclose their income to Kenya Revenue Authority or risk penalties. KRA has given until December 31st, 2017 for diaspora residents to file their returns for the year ended December 31, 2016. KRA will investigate those who will fail to report their earnings and issue heavy penalties after assessing their tax dues.
“We are asking these people to voluntarily come forward and take advantage of the tax amnesty. We are aware there are Kenyans holding assets overseas,” said the deputy commissioner in charge of the policy and coordination unit at KRA James Ojee.
Those who will obey the order during the one year amnesty will have their taxes, interests, and penalties from past years up to 2016 waived.
Mr. Ojee told reporters that tax compliance in Kenya is very low with less than two million of the eligible ten million taxpayers complying.
To successfully finance the Ksh2.6 trillion budget in the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the government hopes to raise Ksh. 300 billion ($3billion) by taxing individuals, properties, and businesses owned by Kenyans abroad. Consultants, auditing firms, artists, footballers, and athletes are the authority’s major targets.
KRA said means of catching tax evaders will be gazetted. Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury Henry Rotich already signed a multilateral tax information exchange agreement in Paris which allows 120 tax jurisdictions worldwide to share confidential information on individuals’ tax obligations.
“We are just waiting for the gazette notice. Once it is gazetted then we are up and running. This is going to form the basis for investigations,” said Mr. Ojee. “Those who come forward will be happier than those who say let us wait and see.