KRA TO SNOOP ON INDIVIDUAL CHATS AS A DETERRENCE MEASURE TO TAX EVASION

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The taxman has gone a notch higher in fighting tax evasion by mining taxpayer data through a new forensic laboratory, yet to be launched.

The laboratory will be used to mine data, tap into hidden accounts and records, from taxpayers’ computers and mobile phones for the purpose of detecting financial fraud.

Evidence targeted by the KRA through the forensic lab will be in form of e-mails, texts, video, audio, image files, and other transactional data on hard disks and other storage media.

“The investigations of such crimes require sophisticated data acquisition, mining, analytics, and storage tools in addition to technical expertise to reconstruct the transactions and provide insights into complex crimes,” The taxman said.

In KRA’s budget for the Financial Year ended June 30th, 2021, KShs. 31.19 million was allocated for acquisition of the intelligence gathering system. This among many other steps, will usher in the sophisticated laboratory. To enhance intelligence collection in data form, KRA will enlist special software to access data from Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPads and other smartphones.

A tender meant for the supplies to the forensic lab described the qualities of the tool as must, “have ability to extract, analyse data from all types of phones and tablets, should include full range of peripherals and accessories needed for mobile forensic investigations, including connectors … faraday bags, memory card readers, SIM and micro-SIM ID Cloning cards, camera of capturing images of the data or screenshots directly from the device…”

The move by KRA reflects the intensity with which the taxman is tapping into the ever-growing digital economy to grow its tax base. Statistics by Communications Authority of Kenya released in 2021 show that 65 percent of Kenyans above 15 years of age had internet connectivity, while 98 percent of over 15-year-olds own smartphones, showing the deep level of internet penetration in the country, as well as the renewed efforts by the taxman to mine data using digital platforms.

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