KRA to lose grip on tax appeals

KRA to lose grip on tax appeals

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is expected to lose its grip on tax appeals as the stewardship of the Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT) is handed back to the Judiciary.

The National Assembly Finance and National Planning Committee has approved changes to the Tax Appeals Tribunal Act ahead of the amendment bill passage by MPs.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is expected to become the appointing authority of members’ of the tribunal while the Public Service Commission (PSC) with competitively recruit the secretary and staff of the TAT.

At the same time, the tribunal funds will now be appropriated by Parliament which will see the tribunal obtain its own budgetary allocation.

Presently, the Tax Appeals Tribunal is hosted by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) which facilitates its operations by providing its budgetary allocation, office space and general infrastructure requirements.

The secretariat of the tribunal is further deployed by KRA there being no explicit manner of recruiting staff at the TAT.

“This has created a perception of conflict of interest since TAT reviews decisions are made by the KRA Commissioner,” the Gladys Wanga led Committee observed in its report tabled last week.

The National Treasury has backed up changes to the administration of the tribunal which it hopes to work out challenges including a backlog of appeals from taxpayers.

“The current Tribunal has been sitting to hear cases just like any board of a public entity. This arrangement may have contributed to backlog of cases waiting to be heard and concluded as tax appeals cases, due to their complexity in nature, require more sitting for hearing and also for writing judgement,” said Treasury’s Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie.

The Tribunal is now expected to sit on full time basis to address this backlog by sitting more frequently.

The Tax Appeals Tribunal is among 34 tribunals that were to be regularized to comply with a High Court directive issued on March 11 this year after a petition by Okiya Omtata which challenged the composition and operations of local tribunals.

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