iTax is the perfect IT solution for KRA but it’s not working

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The crowd that was behind me

I have just come from filing my tax returns and my mother’s too. I know what y’all are thinking! Look at those Kenyans who procrastinate and send in their tax returns the last minute. In my case that could be sort of true. I had planned to file my returns over the weekend, after having issues trying to connect and failing several times to access the site. This is a frustration for many. Finally somebody sent me the form, and it looked very easy to fill. It is, when you are only filing only one type of income. Horror of horror if you say you have more than one type of income. The drop down menu is complicated. You get a variety of tabs including summary of capital allowance, balance sheet etc. If you are not an accountant and the last time you looked at balance sheets was more than 10 years ago when you did commerce, you may freeze up in horror. Where to start? The easiest solution was to just fill in the physical form.

My mother on the other hand had issues with the balance sheet. My mum is progressive so she had already been helped by my sister to fill in her itax form and she was ready to go. But for some reason the balance sheet would not balance. She did not have any liabilities to declare and the form would not upload because the assets and liabilities were not balanced. After hours of attempting to upload the form they gave up. She decided to fill in the physical form but she has been out-of-town and came back this weekend so that’s why I was filing returns today.

So I had the bright idea that if I was there by 7 am I would not find many people. Shock on me there was quite a line at Railways Club which is where people are dropping their forms. There were two lines one for people dropping off their forms and another for people who had inquiries or needed to have their password reset because they forget it. Quite a few people have had this problem including my sister. One guy on the line told me that he had come for a password reset last week and 4 days later it has not been sent.

The crowd infront of me today at Railways Club.
The crowd in front of me today at Railways Club.

Many people on the line had tried itax but their forms were not uploading and because they do not want to be on the wrong side of the law have decided to submit the physical forms. Some companies it seems had also send office assistants with batches of papers to file. Lucky are those who have HR to fill in their forms or send them. By the way I recommend filing your tax returns yourself because some people have found out years later that their employers were not filing their tax returns. You will end up paying a lot of money in interest so it’s in your interest to make sure you have filed your tax returns.

The crowd that was behind me
The crowd that was behind me

A few lessons to be learnt

iTax is a pretty good idea but they need to make sure they have the capacity for very many people to upload their documents. In this they have failed miserably. It is very frustrating for many trying to keep uploading the documents after completing them yet they are not able to. I don’t know whether the site itself is the problem or there is an issue with the website capacity.

KRA needs to start encouraging individuals to start filing in January. For many of us June is tax returns month. We need to get into the culture of filing in returns early. KRA needs to lead the way.

The excel form for people with more than one income is not simple to fill for a person who is not an accountant. They should make it simpler or conduct more training for HR professionals so that they in turn can help people who need help filing in their tax returns.

I love the fact that Huduma centres are also being used as iTax centres. One issue is that many people may not be able to get time off work to go there. They needed to branch out and take more people out into areas like Westlands, Githurai, Rongai, Kitengela etc.

I was there by 715 and was served at around 840. I was early. If you are planning to file your returns manually I suggest you do it today. The crowds were getting bigger and bigger every few minutes. If uploading your form hasn’t worked I also suggest you print a form, fill it in and take it there. Don’t wait for tomorrow.

I think itax is a great initiative which will make it more convenient to file your taxes online. But there is still a long way to go in getting people to adapt to this new way of filing taxes.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Agree iTax is fairly good when it is accessible and assuming you can figure out how to fill out the returns. Usability is still a problem but it is much improved compared to the previous ITMS system.

    We have blog posts on how companies file their returns on our blog ( http://www.kenyamanual.co.ke ) – but maybe next year we should also provide help/tutorials for individuals doing their returns, considering how many have complained about iTax this year it might very well be something we will do.

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