The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is now at liberty to access all records of suspected tax cheats in a bid to enforce tax adherence.
This follows the dismissal of a case that sought to stop the taxman from accessing private records.
In the past, KRA has used bank details, import records, motor vehicle registration details, utility records among other sources to prefer charges against individuals whose tax filings fail to match revenue records
Activist Okiya Omtatah had moved to the high court challenging some sections of the Tax Procedures Act on grounds that they infringe on taxpayers’ right to privacy.
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Omtatah had alleged that provisions of sections 57, 58(2), 59 and 99 of the Tax Procedures Act are a breach to the constitutional rights to privacy, right not to self-incriminate and right to fair administrative action.
In a major win for KRA, High Court judge Justice Weldon Korir struck out the suit ruling that the right to privacy can be limited within the law and in the public interest and privilege not to incriminate oneself cannot be used to get away with a crime.
Korir further observed that the said provisions of the law are only meant to enforce the tax laws after a taxpayer fails to self-assess for tax purposes or once it is evident that a taxpayer is dishonest.
The court also noted that Tax Procedures Act has safeguards that ensure taxpayers receive fair administrative action from the tax collector whenever the need arises to put a particular taxpayer through the administrative process.
According to the judge, the provisions are only meant to enforce tax laws after a taxpayer fails to self-assess for payment to KRA or when evidence emerges of tax cheating.
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