African nations asked to digitalize revenue collection amid COVID-19 disruption

Photo shows a person using a laptop. CFP Image

Tax experts have called on African countries to digitalize revenue administration and collection as businesses increasingly shift activities online amid the COVID-19 disruption.

Githii Mburu, commissioner-general of the Kenya Revenue Authority, said COVID-19 challenges have now made it mandatory to digitalize tax collection.

“The business environment has transformed faster due to modern technology. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to go online thus tax administrators must align to this change,” he said on Monday during the sixth African Tax Research Network conference held virtually.

William McCluskey, a tax policy expert from University of Pretoria, South Africa, said COVID-19 has created economic headwinds in revenue administration for African countries.

“As COVID-19 ravages many countries across the world, properties are becoming empty, landlords are reducing rent and businesses are not making much money leading to low collection of taxes,” McCluskey said, adding digitalizing tax administration would help governments earn more revenue.

For Kenya, one of the areas digitalization has helped boost tax collection and management is in the property sector, according to Farida Karoney, Cabinet Secretary for Lands.

“Kenya digitalized its land management system and this has seen revenue collection from land rates and stamp duty grow as the government knows where each property is,” she said.