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Why it is a moral and social duty for taxpayers to file their returns


Why it is a moral and social duty for taxpayers to file their returns

Thursday April 20 2023

Kenyans queue to file their Income Tax Returns at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Offices in Mombasa before the 30th June deadline in this photo taken on 28th June 2018. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG

For many governments, filing an income tax return is not just a legal requirement but also an act of patriotism.

Regardless of where one resides, taxation is one common identifier for citizens across varied countries.

It, therefore, makes sense that with only one month to June, more taxpayers will be filing their annual tax returns, while more employers will issue out p9 forms.

Citizens are expected to comply with their tax obligations on income earned during a given financial year (FY) period and account for the same by filing their tax returns.

According to renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, income tax remains the hardest thing to understand in the world.

Einsten’s thoughts resonate well with a majority of taxpayers. American Columnist ‘Ann Landers’ echoed these thoughts through the quote – ‘today, it takes more brains and effort to make out the income-tax form than it does to make the income.’

Well, taxpayers are quite often thankful for their incomes, especially at the point where they face tax deductions.

While as a taxpayer, your heart may skip a bit when you check your tax deductions, it is still noble to pay your taxes.

Tax collection generates public revenues that finance investments in human capital, infrastructure, and the provision of services for citizens and businesses.

American jurist and legal scholar, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, termed taxes as ‘what we pay for a civilized society’.

This quote is inscribed to date on the entrance to The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Washington, DC.

In Kenya, during this period (2021/22) of filing tax returns, an 18 percent filing growth was recorded by March 30, compared to last year, same period.

Filing tax returns can be viewed as a moral and social duty of every responsible citizen. In the Kenyan context, the law provides that all KRA PIN holders file tax returns.

Kenya operates a self-assessment tax regime where every person is required to assess himself or herself and declare the income earned during the year and pay any taxes due.

To drive compliance, tax agencies implement various initiatives to support their customers in complying with their return filing obligations.

Communication and awareness campaigns drive compliance. Taxpayers are more likely to comply with their obligations, when they know what they are required to do.

At the KRA, communication and awareness commenced in early January 2023 through direct marketing, for individual and corporate taxpayers.

The KRA continues to create awareness of return filing by sharing how-to-file guides and offering filing support to taxpayers.

It estimates that by June 30, six million taxpayers will have filed their 2022 income tax returns. This is a great increase from the 5.5 million total returns filed for the previous year of income 2021.