Shock as KRA allegedly demands KES 1.74M tax arrears from local tailor in West Pokot

A move by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to demand KES 1.74 million as a fresh turnover tax from a local tailor has shocked many people in Kapenguria town, West Pokot County.

This comes when KRA officers at the Kitale branch are on the spot over alleged exploitation, demanding bribes from business people, threats and harassment.

Joseph Omondi Oyomo who owns a sewing shop by the name “Elegance Textiles” also owns a small and upcoming Pazuri Africa training centre where he trains youth on sewing in Makutano town is the latest victim who is being compelled to pay the huge amount as tax arrears for the last three years.

Omondi is not alone as other business people in the region have raised concerns over being frustrated and exploited by the authority officers who are forcing him to pay the exaggerated tax arrears because he refused to give out bribery.

This year another wholesale trader in Makutano town was forced to close down his premises after he was compelled to KES 7 million tax arrears.

A businesswoman who sought anonymity for fear of being victimized said that KRA is now demanding KES 500,000 from her.

Omondi sews women’s dresses, suits and school uniforms and says that his business is too small to pay KRA the entire sum.

Omondi claims that the KRA officers demanded a bribe from him which he refused to oblige to.

He now wants President William Ruto to intervene in the matter.

“KRA is being used as a weapon to frustrate small business people. We are struggling to make both ends meet,” he said.

Omondi who started the business in 2021 said that he was mistakenly removed from the turnover tax system by the authority itself.

“I went to the KRA Kitale office to find out where the problem was but I was not helped. I went to the Eldoret office and it was solved, hence I started to pay. It took like two years and I decided to go to the Eldoret office. I started filing the turnover tax obligation in May 2023,” he said.

He however says that recently, the Kitale office demanded his business records for the last three years.

“They wanted my M-pesa transactions and bank statements for the last three years. I went to the Kitale office and explained. They wanted me to pay KES 166,000 which I was supposed to pay in six months which I agreed to, but they wanted me to bribe them. I refused. They did adjustments and demanded KES 292,000 but I didn’t cooperate. They are now demanding KES 1.74 million,” he alleges.

He cited the economy is now bad and he won’t manage to pay the said tax arrears.

“Even if I go to the bank now to be given a loan of KES 1.7 million or even one million I won’t be given. My business is down because of hard economic times. Even if I give out my collateral it won’t. I have no funding from anyone. Where will I start?” he pondered.

Another businessman in Kapenguria town, Ashiono Wendo called on KRA to sensitize people on the new KRA procedures.

“We need public participation. Some people were working but sacked but they are forced to pay tax monthly. Some have little stock yet they are forced to pay huge amounts of money. You can’t pay more than what you sell. This month they want KES 100,000 then KES 150,000 and later one million. It should be realistic. We don’t want threats over phones. They should not use people’s ignorance to extort money from them,” he said.

Sammy Abuyanza a resident of Kapenguria said that KRA should be friendly to people.

“Right now if you see KRA people you can escape because of fear. We must pay tax but we should be enlightened on how to file returns. Let the boda boda and mama mboga understand first,” he said.

Brian Wekesa an accounting officer at the Kitale KRA office says that Omondi failed to pay the tax arrears from 2018 which is why the amount accumulated to KES 1.74 million.

Wekesa adds that the computation was calculated according to the record Omondi submitted to KRA.

“He could have objected through the right channel of writing an email to us,” he said.

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