CRUSHING WEIGHT

Careful, taxes will drive us to rebellion

In Summary

• When you tax us to the bone and yet your income is safely guarded from these taxes, what do you expect us to do but to blatantly defy you?

Treasury CS Henry Rotich displays the briefcase containing the 2018-19 budget estimates as presented to Parliament on June 14, 2018.
OMINOUS: Treasury CS Henry Rotich displays the briefcase containing the 2018-19 budget estimates as presented to Parliament on June 14, 2018.
Image: COURTESY

In 2018, 3.2 million Kenyans filed their taxes. They were taxed 26.6 per cent of their gross income, the third highest taxation in Africa after Swaziland and South Africa.

Big corporations are taxed 11.8 per cent of their total declared profits. This means individuals in Kenya prop government operations rather than business conglomerates?

Last year, I was compelled by my government to pay eight per cent tax on petrol or petroleum products that I buy. I’m told I am lucky, it could have gone to 16 per cent.

When I’m tempted to take a sip of my favourite drink, that too has been slapped with a high excise tax to seal budget deficit under what they call “sin tax”. Water has not been spared.

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Sir Winston Churchill

Large income earners pay 35 per cent income tax. My rent money is taxed and even my imagination I bet will be taxed in future. I bet even dowry money will follow.

Interestingly, things that matter to me such as M-Pesa transactions, per diem and even bank transactions have all attracted an increase in taxes in the last two years.

The new entry in town is a mandatory housing tax, which is forcibly plucked from my earnings and paradoxically, I have to be vetted to benefit. All this under the backdrop of promising me car loans and mortgages that I’m yet to see.

The few hard-earned allowances such as risk and extraneous allowances are the next on the chopping board.

The trillion-shilling budget has not reduced unga prices, built stadia or delivered free secondary education, not even a new school curriculum. Orphans, widows and the vulnerable have not been cushioned.

The effects of drought in Turkana have not been mitigated and addressed. It has not stopped the government’s appetite for borrowing more funds from Bretton Woods Institutions and China. 

 

We have a debt of Sh5.4 trillion and yet we raise about Sh2 trillion yearly. Of this, Sh1 trillion is lost to corruption.

Instead, I hear money has been lost in dams, maize and sugar importation, NYS, cemetery, Olympics fiasco, health and security contracts. Officials make erratic trips abroad and lavishly spend our tax money as they please.

Why does the government tax poor Kenyans, steal and misuse public funds, then come to impose a mandatory housing tax on vulnerable Kenyans. Leaders are meant to be the voice of the people, but the voice of the people is the voice of God.

Majority of the population in Turkana depend on pastoralism as their main economic activity. But their livestock have been decimated the biting drought, forcing more than 30,000 pastoralists to move with their animals to Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan in search of water, food and pastures.

When you tax us to the bone and yet your income is safely guarded from these taxes, what do you expect us to do but to blatantly defy you?

I now hear that leaders are planning to increase their salaries. They want an entertainment allowance is Sh100,000 as well as a gardener, guards, bartender and cook.

The leaders are pursuing a dangerous path and just like a house built on stilts, they will face the wrath of the people. No country has ever taxed itself to prosperity.

“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle,” Sir Winston Churchill once said.