KRA Targets Social Media Influencers in New Tax

A file image of a woman using a phone.
A model illustration of a lady using a phone in an image dated 2019.
Simon Kiragu

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has issued a statement indicating that social media influencers will not be exempted from the newly imposed Digital Service Tax (DST).

The taxman argued that they also fall under the new tax as they earn from facilitating online businesses and individuals to generate revenue.

"Social media influencers will be liable to pay digital service tax since their income is derived from or accrued from the provision of services through a digital marketplace or by providing digital advertising services in Kenya," KRA stated.

"Kindly note an influencer is a person who commands a following through a media platform through the products or services they use or engage in to drive sales or fame," the taxman adds.

A user browsing through a smartphone for news.
A user browsing through a smartphone for news.
Simon Kiragu

The newly imposed DST took effect on January 1, 2021, with all digital service providers both resident and non-resident, providing services within the country to remit their taxes to KRA before the end of every month.

KRA reiterated that DST will be charged on services resulting in revenue generation whereas Value Added Tax (VAT) will be charged on the goods sold.

"Kindly note the tax will be collected and remitted by agents appointed by the commissioner of Domestic Taxes," KRA stated.

The new instruction by KRA has generated debate online from netizens, with a larger section castigating the taxman for the directive.

Some argued that social media influencers in the country do not earn much, and in some instances push political agenda further questioning if the politicians themselves would incur the tax.

"Kenyan Influencers don't have money. You people want to finish youths in this country," Bravin Yuri added.

"Also KRA these "influencers" pay withholding tax, they are not paid digitally, they then promote a product online, they not selling anything. But what do I know, it's not like a can Google this," another netizen opined.

On January 5, KRA stated that it had set out a target to collect about Ksh5 billion from DST between January and June 2021.

The taxman further stated that individuals and companies offering digital services would be required to pay 1.5 per cent of their gross transaction value as DST effective January 1. 

The tax shall be due on or before the 20th day of the month the digital service was offered.

Kenya Revenue Authority Offices along Mombasa Road, Nairobi.
Kenya Revenue Authority Offices along Mombasa Road, Nairobi.