KRA Clarifies New Tax On Travellers’ Personal Items Worth Over Ksh.75K

Reactions varied from alleged poor handling of arrivals at the JKIA, long queues and exploitation after KRA made the announcement on social media platform X.

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The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is under fire over a new push to collect taxes from travellers’ personal and household items.

The taxman came under intense online scrutiny after issuing a directive seeking to tax travellers or passengers arriving into the country from international destinations to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with items worth USD500 and above, which is equivalent to Ksh.75,000.

Reactions varied from alleged poor handling of arrivals at the JKIA, long queues and exploitation after KRA made the announcement on social media platform X.

The KRA passenger guidelines include all passengers on first arrival who intend to change their residencies to Kenya.

This includes missionaries, military personnel or aid agencies who take up appointments in Kenya. It also includes diplomats and foreign students as well as returning residents.

“I’ve seen something coming out saying we are taxing everything that you are coming with when you have travelled out of the country you’ll always come with the clothes, the bags,” David Ontweka, the KRA deputy commissioner for policy and international affairs, customs and border control told Citizen TV.

“Where you purchased goods that are more than 500 dollars you will be required to declare them for example if you go out there and you buy a phone and you go with another phone, you will be required to come and tell the officer that I have an extra phone.”

Taxable items exceeding five hundred us dollars include clothes, personal and household effects and phones, among others.

“The goods that have been checked in will be scanned by the airline and in most cases the traveller will not even know that the scanning has been done so when you arrive we will only pick out the baggage that has been marked for further verification,” Sally Serem, KRA’s chief manager for passenger clearance at JKIA says.

However, KRA says duty shall not be levied on the goods imported including spirits, wines, water and perfumes not exceeding one litre.

“People who smoke are allowed to carry 250 grams of tobacco perfume of less than a litre and alcohol a level of what you can carry beyond that you have to pay for it,” Ontweka says.

There has been widespread concern over KRA customs handling of passengers arriving in the country.

“The concern also arises because arriving from international travel in most cases one has been on the air for so many hours so you are tired so when you are made to wait you are likely to think you are being treated unfairly so the concern arises when you are stopped and your baggage is screened and you are interviewed and the delay that arises from that,” Serem says.

The National Assembly Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committee has called out KRA for allegedly harassing and intimidating passengers arriving at JKIA.

“There is a need to clarify which goods are affected and ensure personal effects and electronics are left out,” Nelson Koech, the committee’s chair said on Tuesday.

“This is not the time to be threatening those coming to Kenya, we are entering the peak tourism season.”

The committee says they want the agency to handle tourists professionally and to allow travellers to declare their luggage and where necessary pay duty before landing.

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