KPMG East Africa has a summary of some tax proposals in the Finance Bill that will be used to plug the country’s ambitious Kshs 3.6 trillion 2021/22 budget.
Here are some excerpts
Depositories are to enhance the identity of investors i.e buyers and sellers of securities.
Creation of post-retirement medical funds in retirement benefits schemes.
Clarifies the definition of an infrastructure bond.
A capital markets tribunal shall deal with matters before it within 90 days.
Moving from 16% to exempt after July 1, 2021, are the transfer of assets into real estate investment trust (REIT’s) and asset-backed securities.
Opens up reinsurance to players other than Kenya Re to certify reinsurance contracts.
Opens the door to private electricity companies; no longer required to offer their supply to the national grid and they are eligible for investment deductions. Also, if government licenses them, they can compete with KPLC.
Tax cases will not stop where there is an ongoing criminal or civil case.
Abolishes the amnesty on rental income tax before 2013 (which had since expired).
Rewards for informing on tax dodgers; The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) can reward up to Kshs 500,000 (up from 100,000) for information and up to 5% or Kshs 5 million of taxes recovered.
Taxpayers are to keep records for 7 years and KRA can assess claims of up to 7 years from the date of a taxpayer’s last return.
Digital Taxes and market
PIN’s required for digital marketplace transactions.
Digital service tax is removed from residents (only applies to non-residents).
Non-resident businesses can maintain records in convertible currencies (not necessarily Kenya shillings).
To stop base erosion and profit shifting, multinationals / ultimate parent companies are required to file a report on their activities (revenue, profit, taxes paid, employees, assets, cash) in Kenya within 12 months of their financial year-end.
Ends group VAT registration for groups of companies; each entity will report its own VAT on transactions.
To encourage large investments, there is an exemption for import declaration fee (IDF) and railway development levy (RDL) for investments over Kshs 5 billion or with the approval of the Treasury Cabinet Secretary.
Value Added Tax
Introduces VAT on bread.
Several items move from 16% to exempt, which means the Treasury CS can exempt them on request. These include infants foods, medical ventilators, lab reagents, gas masks, x-ray equipment, anti-malaria kits and doses, and artificial body parts.
Also moving from 16% to exempt, are vehicles for oil & mining companies, and equipment for solar & wind generation.
A 20% betting tax returns after being briefly for a year.
Bank loan fees no longer incur excise duty.
Remove a requirement for VAT regulations to be approved ahead by Parliament; instead they will be shared with legislators under the statutory instruments Act.
Withholding tax in oil and mining sectors will be 10%
Removes the 10 year limit on carrying tax losses
Excise tax goes up on motorcycles and is introduced on jewellery and nicotine substitutes.
Reintroduces excise duty on locally-manufactured sugar confectionery and white chocolate that was removed in 2019.
Last Friday, there was a bold tweet by the CEO of Sportpesa announcing the return of the company to full business, with partnerships for sports development to follow.
This comes after a crackdown last year crackdown on gambling companies through a moral push, taxation claims and difficulties renewing licenses, which all led many of the top betting companies to scale back their sponsorships and operations.
But the announcement, just as the English and European soccer leagues that are popular with betting punters get into gear, was followed by a surprising turn of events.
The following morning, the Chairman of the Betting Control and Licensing Board had a press conference and issued a statement about information that Sportpesa Global had granted to Milestone Games permission to operate as ‘Sportpesa’. It went on to say that had licensed Milestone to operate in the country, but asserted that Sportpesa is owned by Pevans East Africa and that no other company can use its name brand, domains and mobile phone shortcodes – asked directed Milestone to use its own website.
Then over the weekend, one of the other Sportpesa shareholders, Paul Wanderi Ndung’u also released a statement on behalf of Kenyan shareholders of Sportpesa and said he had been unaware of the developments with Milestone. He also made some serious claims about the company:
Said the problems of the company started in 2017 when its executive directors allied with its foreign shareholders and started running the company without reference to the board.
Said that another director, Asenath Maina, had requested a forensic audit in 2019 on the firm, but that the foreign shareholders, who had been since been deported from Kenya, continue to frustrate the audit.
In three years Pevans East Africa (Sportpesa) has transferred $250 million to the Isle of Man, Dubai, the Canary Islands and the UK. Then, after the company closed, it transferred another $17.5 million to Sportpesa Tanzania and $0.5 million to Sportpesa South Africa.
KPMG and Deloitte &Touche have resigned as auditors and tax advisers respectively of Sportpesa Global in the UK, while PricewaterhouseCoopers resigned as the auditor of the Kenyan business.
Officers from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) have visited Sportpesa’s Nairobi office – and this was linked to negative media and parliamentary coverage in the UK.
Absa Kenya reported their June financial results, continuing the thread of banks taking being impacted by the reduced business activity and increased credit risks occasioned by COVID-19.
Kenya’s fifth-largest bank with Kshs 392 billion ($3.62 billion) in assets saw its deposits and loans higher than 8% last June and a pre-provision profit of Kshs 8.6 billion for the half-year.
However, the bank increased its provisions for bad loans threefold due to COVID-19 impacts and IFRS9 guidelines from Kshs 1.6 billion to 5.3 billion. This resulted in a net profit before tax and exceptional items of Kshs 3 billion, down from Kshs 6 billion last June, with a further one-time charge of Kshs 1.7 billion as the cost of completing the transformation from Barclays to Absa in the first half of the year.
During COVID, the bank had focused on helping its customers manage their livelihoods and has restructured 56,000 loan accounts, worth Kshs 57 billion, 28% of the loan book. COVID-19 has hit across the sector and commercial banks in Kenya have restructured a combined Kshs 844 billion of loans, 29% of the industry’s total. Absa’s bad loans are now at 8% compared to 13.1% average for the banking sector in June 2020.
Last month, Kenya’s President announced proposals to cushion residents from impacts of the Coronavirus that has affected many industries and companies by disrupting supply chains and reducing consumer spending. He cited measures such as reduction of income taxes, and Value-Added Tax (VAT goes down from 16% to 14%), that have now taken root in April 2020.
But the details of the proposal are now clear with the publication of the tax laws amendments. They are contained in a 97-page bill that is to be tabled at and debated at a special session of Kenya’s National Assembly (Parliament) on Wednesday, April 8, for their approval.
KPMG East Africa has nicely summarized some of the proposals in the bill, picking through the details. Some notable items are:
VAT: Items that were previously exempt including bread, milk cream, vaccines, and medicaments, move from the zero list to the VAT exempt list, and this may push up their costs.
Items that previously did not incur VAT but which will now be charged 14% include agricultural pest control products, tourism park fees, LPG, helicopters, mosquito nets, equipment for solar & wind energy, museum exhibits & specimens, tractors, clean cookstoves, insurance services, and helicopter leasing which previously did not attract VAT.
For investors: VAT is now charged on the transfer of a business as a going concern, as well as on assets transfers to real estate investment trusts (REIT’s) and asset-backed securities.
Income tax: Is reduced across different bands with those earning below Kshs 24,000 per month exempted from paying income tax, while the tax rate for top earners goes down from 30% to 25%.
Non-residents will pay 15% withholding tax on dividends they receive, an increase from the current 10%.
Corporate tax: This reduces from 30% to 25%.
Businesses earning between Kshs 500,000 to Kshs 50 million a year are to pay turnover tax, which will now be reduced from 3% to 1% of income, monthly. The previous upper limit was Kshs 5 million. It is now mandatory for businesses to keep records of all their transaction for 5 years
Anti-industry moves?: An electricity rebate for manufacturers has been ended, VAT has been introduced on goods used to build large industrial parks, and there will also be reductions of building investment allowances.
Kenya Revenue Authority: When KRA appoints banks as revenue collection agents, they are to remit collections to the Central Bank of Kenya within two days.
Removes a requirement that KRA publishes tax rulings in newspapers.
KRA may pay rewards of up to Kshs 500,000 for people who give information leading to tax law enforcement (i.e whistleblowers).
The National Assembly will also consider regulations of a new Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund that the President announced on March 30. They will also dispense with appointments to the CDF board and the Teachers Service Commission, and consider any bills from the Senate.
So while Parliament debates this under the rush of emergency provisions, most of the clauses are financial items unrelated to Coronavirus.
KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute series organized a breakfast session in Nairobi today that assessed the risks posed by global events & trends and the potential opportunities that could emerge. The session took place at a time when countries and industries around the world are gripped by concerns and efforts to contain the spread and impact of the Coronavirus.
Sophie Heading, KPMG Global’s Head of Geopolitics, who is on a tour to speak in different capitals around East Africa mentioned that geopolitics now affects the developed world as much as it does for developing countries. She said that US domestic governance is the number one political risk across the world, and that while there has been a shift in leadership away from the US & Europe (G-7 nation) towards China, currently we are in a G-Zero world in which there is no clear leader.
She referenced three distinct areas of technology, trade and trust in which geopolitics could be traced along, and the opportunities they presented for different African countries.
Technology: Advances bring geopolitical power and this is likely to spread to other markets – as seen in the battle between the US and China over spectrum (5G), data, and platforms. China is looking to reshape the Sub-Saharan Africa technological space while the US wants to protect its security interests and intellectual property.
Trade: The US and China have decided to decouple and go separate ways and other countries will have to choose who to align with. Both are seeking new alliances, investors, partners, suppliers, staff etc. but this is also at a time that other key markets are increasing their regulations in terms of capital, policies, taxes and data, etc. Foreign aid used to be a tool that Western states used to influence economic events in Africa, but with the Chinese model of financing infrastructure being so successful, she expected that there will be a drop in aid from the West as it is no longer seen as being effective.
Trust: There is social discontent across the world as young populations feel that government systems are not meeting their needs. This is different in developed nations versus it is in developing ones. But because of their debt levels, most nations now have less policy flexibility to address their internal issues. Also with global growth having slowed down to about 3%, and which may reduce further to as low as 1.5% with the Coronavirus outbreak, any such interventions may widen the social wealth divides within countries.
She said that there is more need to pay more attention to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. This is something that Europe, and the private sector, have championed, but which other governments have not, while the US, China and India have all stepped back on the environmental front.
She cautioned that Nairobi, which is the second-biggest hub in the region for impact investing, but without the Kenya government signalling its interest in championing of ESG issues, may lose out on future investment and client opportunities.