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Activist moves to court to compel churches to pay tax

 Dr Magare Gikenyi.  [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A Nakuru-based doctor has moved to court seeking orders to have those who have been exempted from paying taxes, including churches, made to pay the levies.

In his suit before the High Court in Nairobi, Magare Gikenyi wants tithes, offerings and donations to be taxed.

He wants any person and entity exempted from taxation to be subjected to taxation. 

The push for a wider tax base has landed in court with a petition seeking to have those exempted from paying taxes targeted. 

Expanding the tax base has been President William Ruto’s rallying call since he took over.

In what appears to support the President’s push to widen the tax base, a Nakuru doctor now wants all Kenyans to pay taxes including those exempted from taxes.

Gikenyi, a consultant trauma and general surgeon, has named the Attorney General, CS Treasury and Economic Planning, Kenya Revenue Authority, The Senate, and the National Assembly as respondents in the case.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims have also been named as interested parties.

Gikenyi in the petition notes that the Income Tax Act Cap 470 of the laws of Kenya provides for the payment of income tax by various individuals and entities based on the right of the government to impose taxes as enshrined in Article 209 of the Constitution.

Further, Article 201(b) of the Constitution he said makes it mandatory that the taxation burden should be shared fairly.

Gikenyi said that on the contrary Sections 3(2) of the Income Tax Act Cap 470 leaves out other persons and entities of the populace from paying tax, essentially dismantling the Constitutional principles that tax burden should be shared fairly by all Kenyans and by all sectors of the economy.

Section 13 of the Income Tax Act, he noted allows certain groups of individuals and entities to legally be exempted by the statute while the rest of Kenyans carry their burden. This he noted is discriminatory in nature and contradicts the Constitution.

“To further go against Constitutional dictates, the impugned statute (ITA) especially at section 13 purports to provide exemptions to payment of income tax income tax to a class of people. This is contrary to constitutional dictate which mandates all of us to share the tax burden fairly/equally,” stated Gikenyi in the petition.

The doctor said Article 201 of the 2010 Constitution does not anticipate any form of discrimination. Further Article 201(c), he noted, states that “the burdens and benefits of the use of resources and public borrowing shall be shared equitably between present and future generations.”

“This action has allowed the so-called “exempteers” the likes of churches, mosques, temples, some NGOs, some donation groups, and individuals making billions of money to benefit from this loophole to the detriment of other Kenyans who are toiling to pay their taxes. Tithes, offerings, donations and other monies are not taxed courtesy of this provision,” he stated.

Tithes, offerings, donations and other moneys, he noted, are not taxed courtesy of this provision adding that tax burden should be shared equally and fairly as opposed to other Kenyans carrying a load on behalf of others.

He said the “haphazard discrimination and discriminatory nature of not sharing the tax burden with everyone has increased the strain for those who pay tax.

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