Here is a summary of what your MP will be voting for; check out a range of taxes introduced by Uhuru. What worries many is that the same taxes will be looted by Uhuru’s friends just like they have done in NYS, Ministry of Health, Kenya Power, Kenya Pipeline corporation etc etc
1. Poor families will feel the brunt of the new tax measures after the President proposed to charge importers Sh18 for every litre of kerosene, a revision from an earlier proposal by Treasury that stood at Sh10 per litre. Cries in the rural areas as Uhuru increases the tax on kerosene, making cooking and lighting for millions of poor rural folk an expensive affair.
2. Definition of betting winnings to include the full payment without subtracting the expenses of the winner. Winnings to be taxed at 20%
3. Reduction of petroleum VAT from 16% to 8% and its implementation date changed from September 2020 to September 2018. Calculation of VAT not to include excise duty, fees and other charges.
4. Motor Vehicle Excise Duty of between 20% and 30%
5. Sugar confectioneries including white chocolate at Sh 20 per kg. Sweets, chewing gums, juices and chocolates and other confectionaries will be slapped with an excise duty of Sh20 per kilo. MPs had proposed to do away with this levy in the Finance Bill, 2018.
6. Telephone and internet data services excise duty at 15% of excisable value (up from current 10%). Internet bundles will now be hit with an excise tax of 20 per cent. Time spent on Facebook, Whatsapp or Twitter will be more precious, as tax changes will see the cost of Internet bundles go up.
7. Money transfer services fees Excise duty at 20% of excisable value (up from current 10%);Sending money via mobile money transfer service (MPESA/AIRTEL MONEY etc) will be more expensive. Uhuru proposes a hefty 15 per cent excise duty up from 10 per cent. It will also be painful withdrawing cash from an ATM, transferring money from your bank account into your mobile money wallet or just depositing a banker’s cheque for your child’s school fees after the Government proposed doubling taxes on all bank as well as mobile money transactions.
8. Other fees charged by financial institutions Excise duty at 20% of excisable value (up from current 10%)
9. Reduction of lotteries, betting and gaming taxes from 35% to 15%
10. Housing Development Fund tax to be paid by the employee at 1.5% and employer at 1.5% of the monthly basic salary. Penalty of 5% for employer who fail to submit the contributions. Employers will be required to match their employees’ contributions by also contributing 1.5 per cent to the new kitty.
What Experts say?
The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya chairman Julius Mwatu said while the housing fund was well-intended owing to the country’s housing crisis, affordability might be a hindrance. “The only problem is that it is a direct tax that will go straight at the consumer. If I earn Sh100,000 I will have to pay Sh1,500. But can I afford it?” He said some people in formal employment might be earning less than those in the jua kali sector, and yet the latter are not expected to contribute the 1.5 per cent levy. “The Government should look at other areas to widen the tax net because there are limits to how much tax one can pay… and that is why MPs interacting with the people on the ground are uneasy about the taxes,” said Mwatu.
Policy analyst Robert Shaw noted the President simply shifted the tax burden from petroleum products to money transfers. “What they have done is take out the other eight per cent and spread it on money transactions because people are so dependent on the M-Pesa. It will certainly increase the cost of living because we all use M-Pesa more than cash,” said Shaw.
“They are cutting expenditure and at the same time trying to raise more taxes. They are withdrawing money from the economy, how will the economy grow?” he wondered. Ndii said the Government was desperate, having dug itself into a financial hole by recklessly borrowing and spending. “When you are in a financial crisis, you will see all sorts of desperate measures,” said Dr Ndii.