BY NDOMBE OPERTUM, NAIROBI
When in 2007 Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka pulled a first in declaring his wealth a few months before the general elections, many Mps took a queue and the exemplary leadership of the Mwingi North legislator and followed suit.
Then came Johnson Muthama, the Mp for Kangundo and deputy chief whip who surprised many when he paid his taxes to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in what many saw as a true sign of leadership and nationhood.
The Mps, most of who had opposed payment of tax before the new law could not yield to the pressure from the civil society. But as things stand now, the Mps who are adamant on refusing to pay tax to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) are asking KRA to enter into agreement with Mps through the parliamentary Service Committee to resolve the stalemate.
Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the employer to administer taxation and ensure that taxes are promptly remitted to KRA and not the duty of the employee to make such remittance directly to KRA.
Yesterday, while emphasizing the importance of tax payment by all Kenyan citizens including members of parliament, Kalonzo proposed that PSC sits down with KRA to come out with a lasting solution which will ensure total payment of taxes by Mps is done amicably since payment of tax by all citizens of this country including all members of parliament is provided for in the new constitution. The VP who has always championed for peace, justice and the rule of law has been on the forefront when it comes to payment of taxes.
Under the new law, all state officers are obliged to pay tax. The constitution of Kenyan article 210 (3) stipulates that “no law may exclude or authorize the exclusion of a state officer from payment of tax by reason of the office held by that state officer; or by the nature of the work of that state officer.
Small wonder then that as other Kenyans are subjected to taxation and strive to build their, some of their elected Mps should refuse to pay tax just like other Kenyans. This would be hypocrisy of the highest order and which would smack of a leadership that is non transformational or neither transactional – but serving its own whims at the expense of the rest of the citizens.
But if the proposed meeting between PSC and KRA by the VP takes place to come out with a modality on how to the Mps will settle their tax arrears, then the Mps will pay taxes as provide for in law .
The Mps carry home a whopping sh 851,000 the equivalent of ($ 9,300) per month of which only shs 200,000 ($2,000) is taxed. The rest is in form of fixed but untaxed allowances. Among those calling On KRA to reach an agreement with the MPs willing to pay their accumulated tax but not in lumpsum is Mathira MP, Ephraim Maina.
Recently, KRA Commissioner –General Michael Waweru stunned the parliamentary committee on the spiraling high cost of living when he told them that if the Mps agreed to pay tax, the country would net shs 1 billion ($11 million) that would go a long way in shouldering some of the subsidies the government was offering. Which way Kenyan Mps?