Mainstreaming of Tax Education in the Curriculum

There is every reason for schools to integrate tax education into the classroom. Tax education can be described as the provision of knowledge and skills aimed at changing people’s attitude and perceptions toward taxation. It is the bridge that connects tax administrations and the public. The aim is to raise public awareness on new and existing tax laws, importance of paying taxes, and methods of filing tax returns. Mainstreaming of tax education in the curriculum should strive to change the attitudes and behaviors of learners towards taxation.

In Kenya, most taxpayers and learners have basic knowledge in taxation; however, there are repeated gaps in terms of meaning, sources, uses and administration of tax. To combat this disparity, KRA in the year 2005 embarked on a mission to educate, sensitize and demystify taxation to the public and enhance voluntary compliance. In 2012, the Authority launched a school outreach programme in a bid to nurture a tax paying culture from an early age. Contrary to expectations, the school outreach programme did not reach all the targeted learners due to resource related challenges. Additionally, it was neither part of the formal nor non-formal curriculum.

Across the globe, governments and tax administrations are developing innovative taxpayer education programmes to engage and inform taxpayers in order to enhance domestic resource mobilization. Building Tax Culture, Compliance and Citizenship, (OECD, 2015) depicts several countries that have entrenched tax education in the school system. Some of these initiatives include Peru’s Master Strategy for Tax Education and the Tax fun for children in Malaysia has also been educating school children in tax literacy since 2000, while in Uganda; the tax curriculum was implemented in primary schools through a strategic partnership.

Preparing tax literate school children is an important objective of taxpayer education programs and this begins with school learners at primary and secondary level, who are at a key moment in their socialization process. Educating children about taxation can demystify the tax system and create renewed interest among the youth as they enter the taxable income bracket. Ensuring the continuity of taxpayer education up to tertiary level also provides important opportunities to educate young adults on tax matters as part of their transition to the workforce.

Content related to domestic taxes and customs should be mainstreamed in the curriculum. Complexity and depth of each content area should guide the mainstreaming process at different levels. The content should include, meaning of taxation, uses of taxes, mandate of KRA, double taxation, tax audit and international tax, among others. In 2017, KRA and the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) commenced a collaborative engagement with an aim of mainstreaming tax education in the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC). The two institutions developed a joint proposal and carried out a needs assessment, a milestone that established the gaps of tax knowledge in the society. The report was completed in 2018 and subsequently handed over to KICD for implementation. Today, the curriculum includes fundamentals of taxation at the upper primary and junior secondary levels. Additionally, there are plans to introduce advanced courses on taxation at the senior secondary and tertiary levels.

The tax system is the main driver of economic growth for any nation. Without adequate tax revenue a nation can neither provide public utilities such as roads, education and health care nor sustain its wage bill. The aim is to foster an overall culture of voluntary tax compliance based on rights and responsibilities. The opportunity lies in mainstreaming tax education in the curriculum.


Article by John Mutie, Msc.Fin.


BLOG 16/03/2020

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Mainstreaming of Tax Education in the Curriculum