The complicated tax structure, the report on public finance and expenditure pointed out, is costly to implement occasioning huge losses to the country’s economy.
“This system that encompasses a variety of tax exemptions makes its administration costly and increases costs to the taxpayer of complying with it,” said the report prepared by GIZ, European Union and Kenya’s government.
The more complex a tax system is, according to the report, the more costly is its administration and the more expensive it is for people to comply with it. Taxes administered in Kenya include corporate income tax, personal income tax, Value Added Tax ( VAT) and withholding tax.
Corporate income tax rate is 30 per cent, personal income tax rate ranges between 10 per cent and 30 per cent, VAT rate is 16 per cent, while withholding tax rates begin from five per cent and depend on income source, and whether one is a Kenyan or not.
“ VAT refunds are a challenge for Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) since finance ministry provides a monthly and annual ceiling in the budget on refunds, which is inconsistent with the principle that VAT refunds should be classified as negative revenues and not as expenditures,” said the report titled Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability Assessment.
In countries that have best tax practices, the analysis noted, VAT refunds are automatic. However, in Kenya, the VAT Act does not contain a legal provision for a time limit for settlement of the refunds.
“Delays in refunding VAT tax claims have been a contentious issue in Kenya. In its contribution to the 2011/12 budget preparation process, Kenya Private Sector Association proposed that VAT refund system should be simplified so that any amount of money owed to taxpayers should be refunded by KRA within 30 to 60 days after the submission of the claim,” said the report.