MPs tax saga moves to court

December 5, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – The row over taxation of Members of Parliament (MPs) has now gone to court after a public relations consultant sought orders barring the Kenya Revenue Authority from taxing his income.

Michael Otieno wants the High Court to issue restraining orders against Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), its agents or employees from deducting any taxes from his income, pending the hearing and determination of his case.

Through Lawyer Ashford Muriuki Mugukwu, Mr Otieno said he was aggrieved by the persistent and continued unfair, unlawful and discriminative treatment by the KRA, accusing it of bias and breaching his fundamental rights.

“I have learnt in shock and dismay that MPs, Ministers, Assistant Minister, the Prime Minister, his deputies as well as the Vice President and other Constitutional office holders of the Republic of Kenya do not pay taxes,” Mr Otieno said in an affidavit.

He argued that KRA has openly favoured certain sections of the population namely MPs to an extent of excluding them from paying taxes.

“It is discriminatory against the petitioner (Mr Otieno) on grounds of class, economic status, social standing, the honourable descriptions of the persons and their job descriptions accorded to the said persons whose income has been exempted from tax in the Republic of Kenya as well as on the basis of residence and political standing,” a paragraph of the complaint read.

In his petition, he wanted the court to declare that provisions of the National Assembly Remuneration Act which touch on MPs taxation are inconsistent with provisions of the Constitution and therefore null and void.

He also urged the court to direct KRA to levy taxes from MPs and other constitutional office holders without discrimination and in line with the legal obligation for every Kenyan to pay tax.

Filed on behalf of Kenyans

The aggrieved public relations officer maintained that the practice was unfair, inconsistent with public policy and ‘amounted to gross violations of fundamental human rights’.

He said every citizen had the responsibility to pay taxes and that he had filed the case on behalf of other Kenyans and also as a matter of public interest.

“I ought not to be discriminated against as every citizen has a duty to pay taxes within the law and it is unfair fro KRA to exempt a certain class of citizens such as the aforesaid from tax without any reasonable justification,” he said.

“There is absolutely no criteria or rationale given by KRA which permits discrimination being perpetuated against me,” he added.

He complained that the politicians cited in his case enjoy among other allowances huge and inflated salaries under section Two of the National Assembly remuneration Act.

He added that he has been overburdened by a plethora of taxes, levies including VAT, Income Tax, and Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

His case is due before High Court Judge Joseph Nyamu on Thursday

Elsewhere, The National Civil Society Congress said it would mobilise its legal team to challenge the decision by MPs to evade paying taxes.

Chairman Morris Odhiambo said on Wednesday that the congress would challenge the legality of the Parliamentary Service Commission which is charged with overseeing the legislator’s remuneration accusing it of dishonesty.

“Given that the Parliamentary Service Commission is a body of parliamentarians by parliamentarians, it is essentially an employer and a trade union rolled into one. When MPs want more allowances all they do is to lobby their colleagues to pass a resolution,” Mr Odhiambo said.

The civil society umbrella body’s members also threatened to withhold paying their taxes to KRA until the legislators retreated from their decision. Legal advice centre, Kituo Cha Sheria’s Mike Karanja said that his organisation would lead in the boycott.



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