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‘My flock is ready to pay tax,’ AK boss

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KIPLAGAT-OUTNAIROBI, Kenya, January 22- Athletics Kenya (AK) chief, Isaiah Kiplagat, says his flock is ready to remit their returns as required by the Kenya Revenue Authority under measures requiring sportspersons to pay tax.

Speaking to Capital Sport in his office on Wednesday, Kiplagat additionally announced he had written a circular to all agents and managers requiring them to submit information on incomes obtained by their clients to assist in computing dues owed to the taxman within the coming month.

“This morning, I have sent an email to all agents requiring them to submit returns of all athletes under their management showing details of the amount earned, tax paid and in which country.

“Once these are received by the athletes, they will pass it on to the tax people to make returns on their behalf and there will be no problem,” the AK boss told.

He added: “The only problem is if the agents withhold the information and I have made it clear in my email that information required must be submitted and we have asked them to give us copies.

“It is not confidential anymore, it has become a public issue and we have to see where we can assist. The purpose of getting information to us is to help those athletes with nowhere to go. We have accountants who do returns for us and we can ask them to assist athletes who do not have them to get help at a fee.”

The chairman does not see any fuss in following the measures announced by the Commissioner of Domestic Taxes at KRA on Tuesday requiring all sportspersons in the country to pay taxes on their earnings.

“We had KRA people at our seminar with athletes in December and they explained and answered all questions and there is no problem as portrayed in the media.

“I’m sure elite athletes have accountants and I do not think the issue should raise any problem. Athletes must understand and they were lectured on that.”

On those owing back taxes that for some run into millions, Kiplagat said the taxman had spelt out modalities for them to follow in cleaning their slate without incurring hefty penalties.

“They raised this issue during the Eldoret meeting and they were told how to go about it. If you have a back log, let’s say you have not made your returns for the last three years, you can make it and appeal and show why you did not do it.

“They need to show their accounts that have no taxes and the Ministry (Sports, Culture and Arts) and AK can assist them,” Kiplagat explained.

KRA published measures on Tuesday requiring all earning from sportspersons declared and taxed accordingly in line with all other citizens who submit annual returns in June every year.

Athletes especially distance runners, rank as the highest income earners in the country and the first announcement of the measures in 2012 was met by stiff resistance.

“Where sports income is earned overseas by a sportsperson who is a resident of Kenya for tax purposes, such income is considered to have accrued in or to have been derived from Kenya and is therefore taxable in Kenya.

“However the tax paid overseas is offset against the tax computed locally on the income earned overseas as provided under section 39(2) of the Income Tax Act.

“The sportsperson should however furnish evidence of tax paid overseas in order to be allowed to offset it against tax computed locally,” the KRA statement spelt out.

According to Kiplagat, athletes have nothing major to be concerned about since their earnings are levied in the country’s where they run and what they owe the domestic taxman is negligible.

“KRA were very clear. What they said if an athlete is taxed in the country they run in, the difference between the taxation levels in that country and Kenya is what they are required to pay.

“The athlete is required to file genuine expenses such as air tickets, training costs, agent fees, medication and accommodation. If they do that properly and get a tax expert to file their returns, most of them will not pay any tax,” Kiplagat underlined.

“What KRA are asking is the normal tax required from every Kenyan and those who were in Eldoret were explained that during the seminar. It’s a question to educate the athlete on the process and having them get tax experts.”

The AK supreme has also sent circulars to all event organisers and sponsors urging them to comply with the directives for their races to run countrywide.

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