Tuesday, June 28, 2011

‘Boston Tea Party’ at the Kenyan Parliament

The Kenyan Parliamentarians are currently embattled in a war of words with the tax man on weather they ought to pay taxes on their allowances. The legislatures have ONLY been paying taxes on their basic salary and NOT paying taxes on their allowances. So as one would have it. Their basic pay or salary is minimal compared to the allowances they have given themselves.

New Beginnings
However, with the enactment of the new constitution Kenya is moving from business as usual to business unusual. The legislatures seem NOT to have read the section of the constitution or mistakenly though the section, that states ‘no one is exempt from paying taxes’ would NOT apply to them.

The legislatures were a taken by surprise when the Commissioner for domestic taxes wrote to Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) asking them to pay the taxes on their allowances backdated from August 27, 2010. Albert the date the new constitution was ratified.

Judiciary and Taxes
To add misery to their woes, the judiciary under the new chief justice Dr. Willy Mutunga has shown willingness to pay their taxes. Judges being constitutional office holders were not subjected to payment of tax in the old constitution.
However, when Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) wrote to the new Chief Justice (CJ) who was yet to finish a week at the helm asking for the judiciary to pay their taxes he obliged to their request. He went further and called the KRA asking the taxman to help the Judiciary carry out their request!
Imposition of Taxes
The MP’s on the other hand were busy showing cause why they ought NOT to pay taxes. Arguing on flimsy grounds such as ‘an employee should not have his salary reviewed downwards while in office’ other were the opinion that this cause was not effective ‘floating clause’ which ought to be effected in the next sitting (after 2012 elections).

When this did not do the job name calling was resulted with some MP’s thinking the commissioner for domestic taxes was ‘cheeky’ because he informed the media on his cause.

However, few MP’s have read the mood of the nation and are now coming full circle. Some have already paid their taxes (It has been reported the PM has done his duty in giving what belongs to Caesar unto Caesar and other MP’s are following suit).

It must be said there were a number of legislatures who were paying taxes on their allowances beginning with Johnston Muthama and later followed by the likes of Peter Kenneth. The speaker of the National Assembly had caused uproar to the citizens when he had remarked under the old constitution that the ‘legislatures were free to pay their taxes on their allowances if they felt reasonably philanthropic!’

So this marks another version of ‘Boston Tea Party’ only this time it is in the reverse!

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