The Kenya High Court has upheld sections of the Tax Procedures Act that had been challenged in court for being a breach of privacy to Kenyans by KRA.
In the lawsuit filed by activist Okiyah Omtatah, the lawyer argued that sections 57, 58 (2), 59 and 99 were infringing on the privacy rights of Kenyans, terming the power bestowed upon the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) as “rogue”.
For instance, Section 58 reads; “An authorised officer may inquire into the affairs of a person under any tax law, and shall at all times have full and free access to all lands, buildings, places to inspect all goods, equipment, devices and records, whether in the custody or control of a public officer or of a body corporate or of any other person.”
What this means is that KRA has unlimited access to records of Kenyans whom the agency thinks is a tax cheat, including access to their property, computers and mobile phones.
Omtatah’s lawsuit was dismissed on grounds that he failed to show how the laws were intrusive when it came to nabbing tax cheats. Justice Weldon Korir said that the provisions on the law were meant to enforce tax laws.
“There is therefore sufficient and substantial reason for the limitation of the right (to privacy), as it is KRA’s mandate to ensure that all citizens abide by the laws relating to taxes and where they fail to do so, they are properly brought to justice with sufficient evidence to support the allegation. It is obvious why the government collects taxes and why it is important that all taxpayers comply with tax laws,” said the Judge.
Up until now, KRA has been accessing bank accounts, import records, motor vehicle registration details, Kenya Power records, water bills and aircraft ownership records in an effort to nab those who fail to relevant pay their taxes yet have an enormous amount of wealth to their names.