It’s a new year, and with it comes the reintroduction of the capital gains tax (CGT) in Kenya. This is not the first time it’s appeared (it was suspended in 1985), but previous attempts to reintroduce it in 2007 and 2011 were set aside by parliament. This time it has stuck and is now the law, with the a 5% tax imposed on the transfer of land, buildings and investment shares.
While guidelines have been published by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) it’s still unclear how the tax is to be determined such as on the buying and selling of shares.
For the last few weeks there’s been a mini-rush to complete the sale of some land and share deals. e.g. Equity Bank’s divestiture from Housing Finance with a sale of 24.9% to British American Investments (Britam) for Kshs 2.7 billion ($30.3 million) was concluded on December 31, 2014 (presumably beating the tax deadline).
With land deals, there may be some double taxation, in that that while a buyer pays stamp duty of 4% of the sale value, the government will also deduct 5% from the amount paid to the seller for the same piece of land.
CGT will apply when a property is gifted, abandoned or when the rights to a land title. Exemptions allowed under CGT include transfers that involve retirement benefits, divorce, land that is less than 100 acres, when a company issues shares, motor vehicles, estates of dead people, in corporate restructurings, and if someone sells a house they have lived in for more than 3 years.
Curiously the guidelines have something special for Kenya’s budding extractive industry, but which some investors are not happy about as for sector, which includes, oil, gas, and minerals comes up for some special attention: The net gain on disposal of interest in a person owning immovable property in the mining and petroleum industry is taxable..at 30% for residents and 37.5% for non residents.