The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is demanding Sh8.59 billion from Safaricom as withholding tax arrears due from two major betting firms SportPesa and Betin Kenya in a fresh row pitting the State agency against the betting industry.  

The KRA manager for debt enforcement, Asha Salim, has written to Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore declaring the telcommunications firm a withholding tax collecting agent for SportPesa and Betin and demanding immediate payment of the sum.

Safaricom is expected to pay Sh5.29 billion withholding tax arrears due from Gamcode Limited, trading as Betin, and a further Sh3.29 billion due from Pevans East Africa, which trades as SportPesa, KSA said.

The Central Bank of Kenya’s account has been given by the revenue authority to Safaricom  for immediate payment of the money marked as withholding tax.  

KRA declined to comment on the matter, citing duty of confidentiality to taxpayers. “The KRA is bound by law not to reveal tax affairs of an individual or company. The information is treated as confidential under section 6(1) and (2) of the Tax Procedures Act and Section 125 of the Income Tax Act and the same are held as such,” KRA said in an emailed response. 

It added that the Tax Procedures Act compels it to release information only for purposes of investigation to an authorized investigation entity.

Safaricom also declined to comment on the matter citing the ongoing court case.

The taxation regime in the betting and gaming industry has been changing. Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich has disrupted the sector’s taxation system further by proposing to introduce 10 percent excise duty on the amount staked by gamblers.