The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been given more powers that will allow them to independently strike business premises and homes of those alleged to have committed tax fraud for evidence without the company of the police.
This comes following the amending of the law to allow the tax officials launch investigations and utilize seized material as evidence. Finance Bill 2017 released on April 4, amended the law. Under the new law, the taxman will not need the presence of police in presenting seized evidence in court. KRA has been accusing police of colluding with the culprits to botch the cases.
“This (amendment) will facilitate KRA officers in investigations to follow up their cases to conclusion without necessarily relying on police officers who often frustrated cases by non-appearance or misplacement of evidence,” the KRA said.
Under the new law, the tax officials will not need the presence of police in presenting seized evidence in court. KRA has been accusing police in the past, of colluding with the suspects to botch the cases.
“The authorized (KRA) officer shall have the power to enter and search any premises or vessels and seize, collect and detain evidence and produce such evidence in any proceedings before a court of law or tax appeals tribunal,” the Bill says.
KRA uses raids as last resort if a suspected tax cheat fails to honor authorities multiple requests to provide proper documentation or other required material.
The previous law was not clear whether KRA could perform the raids without the company of the police, or whether the evidence they gather from suspect’s premises without police presence could be used in court. KRA officers have the “powers, rights, privileges and the protection of a police officer.” section 7 of the Tax Procedures Act 2015 Stated
“The proposal to amend Section 7 is to allow KRA officers to initiate prosecution and produce seized evidence in tribunal or court of law,” the circular reads.
The new clause will become effective on April 3.