Kenyans who own property or live abroad and didn’t not take advantage of a tax amnesty announced by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich during the Budget Speech in June last year might be facing stiff penalties this year for failing to comply.
Last year the Kenyan government, aiming to unlock billions of shillings stashed in foreign bank accounts, investments in Western capitals by rich individuals and firms and also achieve the targeted Ksh 2.6 trillion budget for the year 2017-2018, gave a one-year amnesty until Dec, 2016 to Kenyans abroad to pay their taxes and not face any penalties.
“If you are a tax resident in Kenya earning income abroad that is deemed to be accrued or derived from Kenya, then such income should be declared for amnesty if you had not declared it before,” said Leah Achieng, KRA Domestic Taxes Department.
This means that diasporas have ran out of time now and will automatically face the harsh penalties unless the Kenyan government adds more days. KRA also warned them not to try cheating their way out because it is already in a multilateral agreement with over 120 tax jurisdictions that will share confidential information on individuals’ tax obligation.
Kenyans abroad have been complaining and worried that they’ll have to pay taxes twice and still not be represented back at home as the new law comes to effect. The, government, however, made it clear there won’t be any double taxation.
“Let me start by stating that I’m neither a lawyer nor an accountant, just a tax payer worried about having to pay taxes twice. Any lawyers, tax experts or financial experts, feel free to correct anything that is wrongly stated,” said a Kenyan living abroad in a popular blog.
“I’m sure you’ll be as shocked as I am to find out that ALL Kenyans are required to file tax returns regardless of their place of residence. This came into effect in 2001. Needless to say, I have never filed a tax return in Kenya ever. This year will be the first. This is a requirement even if you have no income.”
KRA is hoping to raise about KSh 300 billion from Kenyans and properties outside the country. Its main focus will be on Athletes, artists, consultants, audit firms and actors.