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Publication of tax amnesty guidelines to unlock offshore billions – Tax experts

The Government issued an amnesty window for Kenyans to declare income from investments abroad to boost tax collection./FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 8 – The government has been urged to publish guidelines on how taxpayers will declare their offshore assets and income to take advantage of a tax amnesty for income earned outside the country.

PWC tax partner Rajesh Shah says the guidelines and regulations should have been published by December 2016 adding that for the amnesty to be effective, the rules should be published before June this year.

“What we expect in the regulation is, a declaration form, for lack of a better word. It is like when you apply for a passport, there is a form you fill in all your particulars and details. So we expect a similar kind of process to be issued as part of the guidelines so that people will be specific this is what you need to declare and how to do it,” Rajesh said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The move is likely to unlock billions of shillings stashed outside Kenya and according to Shah, this should not be complicated for tax payers willing to do so.

In his 2016/17 budget Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich directed the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to give an amnesty window for Kenyans generating income from investments abroad to boost tax collection.

Apart from broadening the tax base, the move will play a great role in providing financial transparency going forward considering that not all income that will be taxable locally.

“We are actually saying, to enable people to do things properly, solve this problem. And you can do this by providing regulations. If they want to declare something, just make it easy for them to do so,” Shah said.

In December last year, KRA said the amnesty is for years of income ending on any date in 2016 but the window closes by December 31, 2017, which is the last date for filing returns for the amnesty.

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