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Govt Rolls Out New Technology To Hunt Down Rogue Landlords

The government has deployed new technology in its crackdown on notorious landlords in the major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu as well as other towns.

The technology by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) was launched as part of its efforts to also gain access to their bank records on rental income and utility transactions with utilities such as Kenya Power.

It will rely on implementing a block management system that will use a geographic information system (GIS) to map outbuildings in various residential areas. The block management system will involve managing the communal areas of residential properties through the service charge.

Block management typically involves constant communication with various contractors in respect of maintenance and repairs, insurance of the building and, in some cases, provision of central heating, lifts, porterage, estate staff, lighting and cleaning of common areas.

Nairobi residents walking during the day next to a matatu stage in CBD. /FILE

The new system will classify various estates into blocks of flats, making it easier for the KRA to track down landlords who are tax-compliant and those known to evade taxes as well as to detect the new buildings being put up.

“We are investing in block management and geo-mapping systems to map out all these urban areas like Nairobi and Mombasa and get to know where these landlords are and who is paying what tax and who is not paying what tax,” KRA Commissioner for Legal Services and Board Co-ordination Paul Matuku told the Business Daily.

Though it is a work in progress, Mutuku revealed that the new system will bring all landlords into the tax bracket.

“It is a work in progress in that area (rental income tax) and we will bring all of them (landlords) under the tax net.”

Landlords with an annual rental income of between Ksh288,000 (Ksh24,000 per month) and Ksh15 million (Ksh1.25 million per month) are required to file a monthly tax return declaring the gross earnings rent from which tax payable is computed at the rate of 10 per cent.

Section 6A of the Income Tax Act further requires property owners with rental income of less than Ksh24,000 a month or more than Ksh1.25 million to declare such earnings together with other revenue sources when filing annual income tax returns.

The latest move by KRA seeks to expand its tax bracket in order to incorporate as many Kenyans as possible in efforts to expand the sources of Kenya’s revenue.

The taxman in November 2021 caused shockwaves across the country after it announced that it would target wealthy Kenyans known to post their lavish lifestyles on social media, particularly Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, and do not pay or pay little taxes.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner-General Githii Mburu narrated how his officers are covertly logging in to social media and making fun of Kenyans sharing photos of luxurious cars and throwing expensive parties as well as living large to ensure their taxes align with their lifestyles.

The taxman stated that Kenyans ought to pay their fair share of taxes, a move that hit the ‘soft life’ generation where it hurts as well as the country’s most famous socialites.

Those found as tax cheats risk travel bans, collection of duty directly from their suppliers and bankers and prosecution in what will be deemed as the largest crackdown on high net-worth individuals.

The KRA is racing to incorporate more people into the tax bracket and cut down tax cheating in order to meet its targets. The team within the authority was tasked to keenly monitor the three key social media sites to smoke out tax cheats.

A phone logged into Instagram. /MARVIN CHEGE.VIRALTEAKE

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