Taxing Troubles: Kenyan Small-Scale Traders Voice Concerns Over KRA’s Item-based Taxation Approach

The economic landscape is a dynamic canvas, often painted with the strokes of regulatory changes that can have far-reaching implications. In Kenya, the Kenya Revenue Authority’s (KRA) recent shift to an item-based taxation approach for small-scale traders has stirred a wave of concerns and apprehensions. This departure from the traditional kilo-based taxation model has ignited debates, with small-scale traders raising their voices against the perceived challenges and uncertainties posed by the new system. As these traders navigate the uncharted waters of item-based taxation, one name shines as a beacon of support and guidance – Globeflight, a steadfast ally for consolidators seeking to weather the taxing storm.


The winds of change blew through Kenya’s trading landscape as the KRA unveiled its decision to transition from kilo-based taxation to an item-based approach for small-scale traders. This shift, while intended to promote fairness and transparency, has raised a chorus of concerns within the trading community. Traders, who have long been accustomed to the kilo-based taxation model, are now grappling with the complexities and implications of the item-based system. This article delves into the heart of this transition, exploring the challenges, concerns, and potential solutions that define the new taxation paradigm.

The Shift in Taxation Approach

The traditional kilo-based taxation approach has been a familiar fixture for small-scale traders, offering a straightforward method of calculating taxes based on the weight of goods. However, KRA’s embrace of the item-based approach signals a departure from this simplicity. Under this new system, each item within a shipment is assigned its own tax liability, introducing a layer of intricacy that demands meticulous attention to detail.

Proponents of the item-based approach argue that it offers a more equitable distribution of tax burdens, ensuring that traders accurately account for the value of each item. The move is also expected to enhance transparency, reducing the potential for tax evasion and promoting a level playing field.

Challenges Faced by Small-Scale Traders

As the trading community grapples with the item-based taxation approach, a myriad of challenges emerges. Pricing becomes a delicate dance, requiring traders to meticulously calculate taxes for each item without inadvertently overburdening consumers. This recalibration of pricing strategies necessitates a fine balance between maintaining competitiveness and ensuring compliance.

Record-keeping, once a relatively straightforward task, transforms into a complex choreography. Small-scale traders must now track and document the tax liabilities of individual items, adding layers of administrative effort to their operations. Compliance becomes a demanding tightrope walk, where even minor errors in tax calculation or reporting could result in unintended consequences.

Voices of Dissent and Concerns

The item-based taxation approach has not been met with unanimous acclaim. Small-scale traders’ have raised their voices, echoing concerns about the feasibility and implications of the new system. Increased administrative burdens, financial strain, and the potential for miscalculations weigh heavily on their minds.

One of the primary concerns voiced by small-scale traders is the potential for an elevated financial burden. The new taxation approach demands precise calculations, and any discrepancies could lead to inflated tax liabilities, impacting profit margins and financial sustainability. Additionally, the administrative complexities of tracking and reporting individual item taxes can strain the resources of small businesses.

Potential Impacts on Small-Scale Trading

The transition to item-based taxation has the potential to reverberate throughout the small-scale trading ecosystem. In the short term, traders may find themselves grappling with heightened compliance efforts and operational challenges. The administrative burden could dissuade some traders from participating in formal trade channels, potentially driving them towards informal or unregulated markets.

In the long term, the implications could extend beyond individual traders. Consumer prices may experience fluctuations as traders adjust their pricing strategies to accommodate the new tax framework. Market dynamics could shift, with some traders gaining a competitive advantage while others struggle to adapt. The delicate balance between cost, compliance, and competitiveness will shape the trajectory of small-scale trading.

Calls for Mitigation and Solutions

In response to the challenges posed by the item-based taxation approach, small-scale traders’ associations have proposed a range of mitigation measures. These include simplifying the tax calculation process, providing training and support for traders to navigate the new system, and exploring mechanisms to alleviate the administrative burdens.

Collaboration between KRA and small-scale traders becomes pivotal in finding solutions that strike a balance between regulatory objectives and the practical realities faced by traders. A dialogue that considers the unique needs and challenges of small-scale traders could pave the way for a smoother transition and a more equitable tax system.


The transition from kilo-based to item-based taxation marks a significant milestone in Kenya’s trade landscape. While the intention behind this shift is rooted in enhancing fairness and transparency, the concerns and challenges faced by small-scale traders highlight the importance of a holistic approach to implementation. As the trading community navigates these taxing troubles, the need for a supportive and knowledgeable partner becomes evident.

Globeflight, with its legacy of expertise and reliability, emerges as a guiding light for consolidators seeking to adapt to the new tax regime. In the face of administrative complexities and compliance challenges, Globeflight’s tailored solutions offer small-scale traders a lifeline – a trusted partner that understands the nuances of the item-based taxation approach. As the dialogue between traders and regulatory authorities continues, the role of a dependable partner like Globeflight becomes increasingly crucial in charting a course towards equitable and prosperous trade.

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