The Star (Nairobi)

14 November 2012

Kenya: Athletes Tell Taxman to Go Easy On Them

EVEN after the taxman had explained his case, athletes rejected the move to tax their proceeds earned from races abroad at the ongoing athletes seminar in Eldoret.

In a heated debate athletes, their managers told Kenya Revenue Authority officials they will not relent in the fight to get government to exempt their overseas earnings from tax.

The KRA explained all earnings from sporting activities are treated as income and they are subject to taxation.

"KRA is a government agency mandated to collect tax under section 3 of Income Tax Act cap 470, sporting earnings are taxable and this is in a view of providing a conducive training environment for you," Ezekiel Maru a KRA official, said in his presentation.

But in reaction, Conseslus Kipruto said the tax body should understand how athletes are paid when they compete abroad. He said most of them are not paid in time and there are some who have not received the money they won from their previous races.

"How can you think of taxing even the money we have not earned? I think it is a discouragement to Kenyan athletes if the government goes ahead and taxes us. I refuse to buy that idea,"Kipruto said.

Olympic 800m bronze medallist Timothy Kitum said athletes are selling the image of the country globally and they should not be taxed directly.

"Look at how Kenya has earned respect internationally through athletics and the same government wants to tread on us. Something is amiss and the President should come up and speak on this matter." Kitum added.

Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Mutai and world indoor 1,500m silver medallist Daniel Komen said if the government has resolved to tax them, then he country should be preparedto see a mass exodus of Kenyan athletes to other friendlier and financially more conducive environments.

Athletics Kenya Nairobi branch chairman Barnabas Korir said tmoney earned by athletes should be treated as capital investment.

"Money earned by Kenyans in diaspora is treated as capital investment why not for athletes because many of them reside abroad for up to a year and they have residential permits to prove that. Let their investments be taxed and not have them subjected to double taxation." Korir said.

Meanwhile Eldoret regional manager UAP Insurance George Mboga said many athletes are not well conversant with insurance policies which will help better their lives.

"Actually they should come up and insure their investments. They should be groomed on several matters which will make them lead good life after they hang up their spikes," he said.

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