CRACKDOWN ON TAX EVADERS

Not even the rich should be spared when they avoid paying taxes

If we exempt investors from paying taxes to build hospitals, roads, schools and improve agriculture, who will do it?

In Summary

• By not paying taxes, the rich are not making the country wealthier. To the contrary, they are making it poorer.

• Failure to pay taxes is corruption, like any other form of graft Kenyans have pledged to eradicate.

Director Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji speaks during a press conference at Integrity Centre on January 13, 2019.
Director Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji speaks during a press conference at Integrity Centre on January 13, 2019.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Business persons all over Kenya have been up in arms against government attempts to tax them, arguing that their paying taxes is bad for them and for the economy.

Without distinguishing between local and foreign investors, if the poorest of the poor pay taxes, the rich must also pay taxes. But if the poor are allowed to evade, avoid or refuse to pay, then the rich can also be allowed not to pay taxes either through evasion, avoidance or direct refusal.

In Kenya, the poor are hardly allowed to evade or avoid taxes. Why should the rich be allowed not to pay?

 

Worldwide, failure to pay taxes is corruption, just like any other form of graft that Kenyans have vowed to eradicate. People cannot thus ask for the eradication of corruption and fail to ask for the elimination of tax-related corruption through evasion and avoidance by the rich.

By not paying taxes, the rich are not making the country wealthier. To the contrary, they are making it poorer. No country can develop if the rich refuse to pay taxes because what the poor contribute is too little.

Countries actually become poor when the rich refuse to pay taxes. Therefore, they should not be spared when they refuse to pay taxes merely because their investments employ people. When governments use people’s taxes well as they should, they too employ millions with people’s taxes.

In a development-minded society, the rich should pay more taxes because they can afford to pay more without becoming poor. It should not be argued that because the President comes from a certain community, the rich of that tribe should not be taxed. Should taxes then only be paid by the poor of all communities and rich of non-ruling communities? All of us must pay taxes whether it is our man or woman who is in power.

The rich should complain about being taxed only when taxes they pay are stolen or put into bad use by greedy presidents, ministers, governors, MPs and MCAs. Not paying taxes when they are well spent should be a pun

The rich must not live above the law. In fact, the Kenyan patriotic rich should learn from a rich man of Norway who complained that the government had not taxed him enough when he could afford to pay more and did not need his superfluous wealth.

Yet, for paying more taxes, patriotic rich people of Norway had not become poorer, nor did his business lose the ability to employ. In the war against corruption, DPP Noordin Haji and DCI George Kinoti should not look back on the crackdown on tax evaders. If they do, they will turn into pillars of salt.

If we exempt investors from paying taxes to the government with which to build hospitals, make roads, develop agriculture, train manpower, build schools and employ security for all, who will do all this? When local investors pay taxes, they give the country a local base to industrialise and are not discriminated against. There is discrimination only when the local investors pay taxes and foreign ones enjoy tax havens.

When politicians and leaders support non-payment of taxes by rich investors, it is because they look forward to later contributions to their political parties and election campaigns that are expected to influence policy in their favour. 

 
 

Investors should protect themselves by fighting thieves and by not supporting their candidacy for political office.

 The writer is former Subukia MP and a rights activist.