5 February 2008

Kenya: Lawyers Push to Withhold Taxes

Nairobi — Some lawyers want people to withhold taxes until the political crisis is resolved.

They asked the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) to launch a campaign to urge Kenyans to withhold income and Value Added taxes.

In a statement signed by Mr Charles Kanjama of Muma and Kanjama Advocates, the lawyers will tie white and yellow armbands to support their cause.

"The white ribbon will signify peace, while the yellow one will signify justice, both of which are in short supply," said Kanjama.

In the letter to the LSK Council, the lawyers said citizens had a right to put pressure on the Government.

"The plan would involve two phases: The first on all small and medium-scale enterprises (for one month) and the second involving bigger corporate enterprises," said the statement.

The lawyer said a written agreement would be made with participating employees, allowing them to change their contracts from monthly to annual or half-yearly.

They also suggested that employees be given loans or advances equivalent to their previous monthly salary.

The plan would ensure that no payroll is prepared during the tax boycott, hence no Pay As You Earn (PAYE) for several months.

This would starve the Government of tax, which is the primary source of its revenue.

Kanjama said several LSK members had been approached and agreed to represent employers taken to court over the issue.

At the same time, the lawyers want LSK to file a suit to seek a declaration upholding their course of action.

"We as the LSK are asking the citizens to starve this Government of cash, to complement the threatened withdrawal of donor support, until its illegitimacy is rectified," stated the proposal.

Other recommendations include the limitation of the duration of the electoral tribunal to reduce costs.

"LSK can appoint a panel of retired or commonwealth judges or eminent counsel to make a decision or findings. LSK would have to establish the rules of this tribunal after appointing the eminent jurists," said Kanjama.

It was suggested that LSK members start wearing white and yellow ribbons daily or three times a week, in court and on the streets.

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