7 November 2012

Kenya: Raila Opposes Tax On Athletes

Photo: The Star
Kenya's Hellen Obiri competes during the women's 3000m final at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships at the Atakoy Athletics Arena in Istanbul on March 11, 2012.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has opposed plans by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to tax earnings by international athletes.

The PM asked KRA not to implement the move because it amounts to oppressing the runners and double taxing them.

"It's a wrong move because the athletes are already taxed whenever they earn after races abroad and taxing them here again will demoralise them," said Raila.

He said the athletes usually use their hard earned money to invest in the country thereby contributing positively to the country's economy.

"Many of them have used their money to invest in towns like Eldoret and we are grateful for that," said the PM who was speaking at an elders meeting in Eldoret.

KRA have proposed to tax the runners but the move has vehemently been opposed by stakeholders. Athletics Kenya (AK) President Isaiah Kiplagat said the move was ill thought and can't be implemented.

"We can not allow that to happen because the athletes are already taxed from the country of source where they run," said Kiplagat. KRA and AK will be at this week's workshop for athletes in Eldoret where the taxation issue will be high on agenda apart from other investment issues involving the runners.

Some of the athletes had already received demand letters from KRA asking them to pay taxes. The athletes bring into the country more than Sh2 billion annually from abroad where they participate in international races.

Many of them have invested close to Sh3 billion in buildings, land and other property within Eldoret town and other parts of the Rift Valley region, which is home to the runners.

Sports Minister Ababu Namwamba who visited Eldoret last week said the taxation issue was sensitive to the runners and KRA should consult before taking any measures to implement the plan.

"It's an issue which we have to consult well and that is why we have asked KRA not to go ahead with the plan until stakeholders including the athletes are consulted," said Namwamba.

He said apart from investing their earnings in the country, the athletes had greatly helped to promote Kenya abroad and they should in fact be honoured.

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