The fight against tax evaders should be carried out without fear or favour. Just a handful of Kenyans, about eight million, have carried the tax load of this country for years. This is not encouraging. There are 20 million adult Kenyans.
If all of these people were to pay their fair share of taxes, and the revenue utilised well, this country would be much better today. Thus, efforts to spread the tax burden by cracking the whip on tax evaders should be encouraged. But the purge against them should not degenerate into another witch-hunt. It should be just and fair.
Tabitha Karanja, the founder of Keroche Breweries, a company that is currently on the spotlight for alleged tax evasion, has claimed that the Director of Criminal Investigation has gone after her even when the case in question is being adjudicated upon by the Tax Tribunal. If Mrs Karanja’s claims are true, then the DCI and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) should be called out for disregarding the rule of law.
Billionaire Humphrey Kariuki is another taxpayer on the spot after his company, Africa Spirits, was fingered for denying the country taxes worth Sh41 billion.
Not only has Kariuki pleaded innocence, he has also accused investigating officers of victimisation. KRA insists the purge is neither a vendetta nor targeted at any individual.
Most Kenyans hope that the tax agency means what it is saying. It is also an open secret that most of the tax evasion is facilitated by employees at Times Tower. Just going after outsiders, and leaving the beneficiaries is the equivalent of cutting the leaves rather than digging up the roots to address an ailment.
Clearly, some of these cases would never have been successful without some facilitation from within. And that is why we welcome KRA Commissioner General James Mburu’s undertaking that the authority will deal with its staff who aid and abet tax crimes. Over and above everything, the war on tax cheats should be conducted in a manner that doesn’t leave a tinge of doubt among Kenyans.