Fireworks expected as Ruto allies take tax debate to Parliament
The stage is set for another epic duel that might heighten political temperatures in the country, as the Senate is expected to consider a motion seeking to compel former Presidents to pay taxes.
It pertains to the clamour for deletion of Section 7 - sub-section (3) of the Estate Duty Act. The Act in effect offered the exemption of the former two First Families from paying taxes.
The drafter of the motion - Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei wants the words- “This section shall not apply to H.E Mzee Jomo Kenyatta or H.E Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi” deleted, and replaced by inserting the words: “that this section shall not apply to the disabled, minorities and marginalised as provided by the relevant law.”
Mr Cherargei told Nation on Sunday that already the motion was in the Senate awaiting publication for debate in the House.
“No one will coerce me into backing down since I only fear God, my Nandi electorate, and lightning. All Kenyans must pay taxes because even the Bible says pay to Ceaser what belongs to him and God what is His,” said the Senator.
“When the Senate reconvenes after the December recess, I will rally my colleagues to support it. Doctors and security forces should be even exempted from taxes to motivate them in their services, unlike powerful individuals in the country,” he stated.
Already the clamour to have all Kenyans comply with paying taxes is gaining traction, especially from the Kenya Kwanza-allied legislators.
Senators Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), David Wakoli (Bungoma) MPs Julius Rutto (Kesses), Majimbo Kalazinga (Kabuchai), Gideon Kimaiyo (Keiyo South), and Joseph Wainaina (nominated) have all backed the proposed deletion of any tax exemption as provided for in the Act.
“It is worth noting that everybody must pay tax. It is foolhardy to think anyone is targeted regarding issues about tax payments because we are obligated to do so,” he said at St Michael’s Moi University Chaplaincy in Kesses, Uasin Gishu county during a special offering ceremony presided over by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula.
Mr Cherargei said the Constitution, under Article 210 on the imposition of taxation indicates that no person or entity shall be exempted from payment of tax.
“The Constitution provides a prescriptive exemption of taxes, not to include State officers as was Section 7 (3) that exempted the estates of former presidents Kenyatta and Moi. This should be deleted because this has denied the country billions of shillings in form of taxes, which have increased the tax burden of the common man,” he said.
The Senator said the country loses over Sh370 billion annually due to tax exemption laws, which has resulted in a deficit to finance the national budget.
"The exemptions and money stashed in foreign countries are enough to plug in the deficit in our budget. The government needs money to fund its operations and the first thing to do is seal all loopholes,” he said.
On Saturday, while in Mpeketoni, Lamu County, former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta reprimanded leaders accusing the First Family of evading to pay tax.
“If I have not paid taxes, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) can sell my property should the agency prove so. There is no need to politicise tax issues, especially in political forums,” said Mama Ngina.
“The government has clear channels to deal with serious issues like the alleged non-payment of taxes to KRA. The peddling lies in public and political rallies is uncalled for,” she said.
Yesterday, the Speaker of the National Assembly kept off the tax debate.
Mr Wetangula, however, chided the Azimio leadership for behaving like a jilted lover in their quest for power.
“The country is being treated to a circus. Our brothers in Azimio after failing to win the presidency are now beeping through the window to see what is happening in the house. They should leave President William Ruto to run the government while they check it in the opposition since the country must move on,” he said.
On his part, Mr Wakoli said everyone must pay taxes. “This is an act of patriotism and national duty. We shall not sit pretty when others are exempted from paying billions of shillings annually,” he said.
The Kesses MP, while echoing the calls to scrap tax waivers, wondered about the rationale used to exempt other Kenyans from paying tax.
“As a country, we should look deeper and scrutinize how some individuals were exempted to pay tax because this is impunity and an insult to those trying to make ends meet and have been religiously paying taxes,” he said.
His sentiments were backed by Mr Wainaina who said the country must expunge punitive laws that favour the rich and mighty.
“It is unfortunate that those who were in power used their influence to exempt themselves from paying taxes. The mess should be cleaned up and each citizen made to pay tax,” he said.
Mr Kimaiyo said no one is above the law and even the President is paying taxes.