Defiant MPs insist they will not pay any taxes

Kenyan MPs were on Wednesday still insisting that the Constitution shielded them from paying tax.

Accusing the Kenya Revenue Authority of illegally demanding a share of their hefty allowances, the MPs were categorical that they did not owe the tax collector a cent.

“It is the position of the Parliamentary Service Commission that no monies are due or owing to the Kenya Revenue Authority in either taxes, penalties, interest or otherwise,” they state in a letter to the taxman dated July 22.

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On Monday, the KRA said it would not go back on its resolve to tax MPs’ allowances and asked those opposed to submit their objections in writing. The new Constitution is clear on taxes in Article 210 and says that no law may exclude a State officer from paying.

But the MPs argue that the same article stops the KRA from taxing any Kenyan when laws that guide revenue collection have not been enacted.

Senior deputy commissioner-in-charge of marketing and communication Kennedy Onyonyi said: “Any objection to the tax demand ought to be handled within the framework provided by law.”

But the MPs say they should only be taxed after the 2012 elections. The MPs argue that the Constitution shielded them from the claws of the taxman when it allowed the 10th Parliament to continue existing after it was promulgated last August.

The MPs add: “It prohibits imposition, waiver or variation of any tax except as provided by legislation. This is a constitutional requirement. Under what law will allowances be taxed?” the parliamentary commission asks.

Willing to negotiate

They also accuse the taxman of reneging on written assurance that they will not be taxed until after the next elections. More than Sh800,000 which the MPs earn monthly in allowances, is not taxed.

However, the revenue authority insists that MPs have to pay their taxes like all other Kenyans and is willing to negotiate with them the mode of payment.

“We are committed to ensuring fairness in treatment of all taxpayers and will always keep our doors open to assist taxpayers comply with tax legislation,” Mr Onyonyi said.

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