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Economy

KRA to pursue tax cheats as it clears goods held at depot

Cargo at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will still go after tax cheats as it begins clearance of 26 containers that have overstayed at Inland Container Depot (ICD) in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive.

The taxman Wednesday issued a notice inviting all importers to start collecting their goods from the facility over the next three weeks.

The KRA has called on the owners of the cargo to show up, warning that criminal charges will be pressed against importers who had concealed identity of the goods to evade tax.

“Despite the decision to release the goods, however, it is hereby clarified that persons who committed offences of misdeclaration as the importers on record, will remain accountable for their criminal acts in accordance with the law,” warned the KRA in a Tuesday notice.

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The taxman said its records indicate that the contents of the 26 containers were fictitiously declared as machinery and equipment, which attracts zero tax rate.

But in reality, it explains, the cargo comprised assorted commercial items including electronics, motor vehicle spares, cosmetics, garments and edible oil, many of which attract tax.

The taxman’s move means only the genuine importers whose goods had stuck at ICD between 2016 and 2018 will feel the relief even as tax cheats face legal action.

“It has come to KRA’s attention that though the cargo was imported under the name(s) of cargo consolidators, in reality, the merchandise therein belonged to individual persons whose business activities have been adversely impacted by the cargo held up,” said the taxman in the notice.

Last month, President Kenyatta faulted the consolidators for contributing to the delays of containers at the ICD saying that only genuine consolidators gazetted after the vetting process would be allowed to work with the traders.

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