Include tax education in syllabus to boost compliance

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019 00:00 |
Pupils in class. Photo/Courtesy

David Muita

Former United States President Dwight D Eisenhower is remembered for his unquestionable integrity and the constant assertion that “no success is possible without integrity.”

One of his famous quotes is, “the supreme quality for leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” 

This mantra applies to taxation. Taxation and integrity are  inseparable in the journey towards achieving tax compliance.

The two concepts should, therefore, be mainstreamed in our education curriculum from an early age.   

As a member of the Kenya Publishers Association, Moran Publishers is passionate about integrity. This is integrated in most of our publications for schools’ curriculum.

Publishers can play a key role in amplifying integrity and tax messages in school reading material. This is an effective way of delivering tax education and by extension entrenching tax compliance. 

According to various scholarly findings, most taxpayers find themselves in the taxman’s crosshairs due to lack of relevant education or complicated narratives on tax-related matters.

A 2015 report dubbed Building Tax Culture, Compliance and Citizenship by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, indicates that taxpayers are quite often confronted with technical messages that they seldom comprehend. This in turn widens tax literacy gaps.       

To address this matter, publishers should consider producing books aligned to the syllabus, but with the concept of integrity and taxation tied together, with an aim of simplifying the whole concept of taxation and making the benefits of paying tax known to the citizens. 

This kind of approach presents a two-fold benefit. First, it shall adequately prepare the next generation of taxpayers to be responsible citizens by being tax-compliant.

Secondly, the approach shall inculcate a sustainable culture of persons of very high integrity. Whichever way you look at it, integrity and tax compliance are mutually inclusive. 

A person of integrity assesses how much they owe the government in terms of taxes and remits the same within the required timelines. 

The converse is also true. With optimally high levels of integrity in tax payment, the taxman would be saved a lot of time and resources that go into chasing after tax cheats.       

Going by the average level of tax education in the country, there is still a need to explore more approaches to propagate the tax gospel.

If we are to achieve a high percentage of tax compliance in the future, tax education should be inculcated in the younger generation the same way we do with our diverse religious doctrines. 

From a tender age, a child should know what tax is, who is required to pay and, more importantly, the crucial role tax payment plays in the country’s economic well-being. 

In light of this, there is no better way to actualise this strategy than incorporating tax education in our curriculum. 

The partnership between Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development and KRA to develop tax content for inclusion in our curriculum is a step in the right direction. 

It sets the ball rolling towards spreading the tax gospel to our young ones. Given this noble direction that tax education is taking, publishers are automatically a key stakeholder in this cause.

They ought to advise the taxman on the most effective way to package content on tax education.  Improved tax compliance translates to a healthy economy. —The writer is the chairman and CEO of Moran (EA) Publishers Limited 

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