Yesterday I was in a forum organized by the Bloggers Association of Kenya to bring people together with Kenya Revenue Authority. The aim of the forum was for KRA to demystify taxation and especially the newly rolled out iTax system which I had blogged about in an earlier blogpost.
Even though the event was to start at 5.30pm, the KRA team showed up at the Nailab just after lunch so that they could use the extra time to meet people with a view to answer any questions as well as to help them file their returns as we approach the deadline for the same.
Taxation is a heavy subject to many people and it helps that KRA is now reaching out close to the masses to teach people about it. It is also a huge plus that the process has been digitized, making it easy for people to access it from the comfort of their homes. This is through the recently rolled out iTax system, an online based system whereby people can register and file their returns without leaving their homes or offices.
The iTax system has many winning features, some of them being that taxpayers are able to get hold of information such as PIN and Tax compliance Certificates among others without going through too much bureaucracy and face to face interactions, both of which are breeding grounds for corruption. The system also drastically cuts the inconvenience of having to move around from office to office trying to access these services, something synonymous with frustrations and too much time lost.
The audience at yesterday’s event was quite enthusiastic and shot a lot of questions at the KRA officials who were on the panel. They on the other hand understand their system well and were able to answer the questions fully. There was however sentiment, especially online and by those who have used the sysem that the digitization of KRA is still not yet fully beneficial and that the iTax system itself is fraught with errors and that was taken as feedback by the KRA team. We hope they’ll forward the concerns to the relevant departments.
Those who were not able to attend were able to follow the discussion via livestream, as well as through the hashtag #iTaxToday on twitter. The online community was also very involved albeit remotely and they also got to ask their questions online. The same were forwarded to the KRA panel.
I feel that forums like these are very crucial in the building of relationships between tax payers and the tax authority. Paying taxes may never be fun but it pays at least to be educated about it. It is also a win to humanize the tax master so that the aloofness with which the citizenry looks at it can be eliminated.