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Archive for February 21st, 2011

Crude law punishes Kenyans working abroad

Posted by Administrator on February 21, 2011

By John Kuria

When is an individual considered to have broken Kenyan tax residency?

As the East African Community opens up and Kenyan companies increase their investment outside Kenya , many Kenyans are taking up employment opportunities outside the country.

It appears that even though one leaves Kenya either permanently or for a period of time, the Kenya Government is still keen to follow the individual, wherever they are in the world to demand tax from them.

A controversial prerequisite in place for an individual to be considered tax resident in Kenya requires the individual to have a permanent home in Kenya and be present in Kenya for any period in a particular year of income — even if it’s just a day!

Under the current Kenyan tax laws, it is not possible to establish what a permanent home means and it is possible that the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) can take this to mean a home that is available to someone to live in when they visit Kenya.

But even more importantly is the fact that if a Kenyan citizen spends even one day in Kenya; either at the airport while on transit or steps on Kenyan soil, then he/she is automatically considered to be resident in that year and is required to file a tax return.

As a result, majority of the Kenyans who fall under this category feel that they will be double-taxed as they would be required to pay tax in their current host country as well as in Kenya because of their home and presence in Kenya.

It is no wonder then that the Finance Minister, in last year’s budget, found it fit to declare an amnesty for Kenyan citizens who are living and working outside Kenya and had not filed their Kenyan income tax returns.

But is it right for the Government to demand taxes from individuals living and working abroad? In fact, the question that begs an answer is, when does one break Kenyan tax residency?

In the event that a Kenyan citizen living and working abroad was to file a tax return in Kenya, they would be required to declare their income earned abroad, assess themselves for tax using the Kenyan tax rates (the graduated scale) and then take credit for the taxes paid in their current country of residency.

Taxation regime

So the question again is what about those individuals who live and work in countries like Dubai where there are no taxes?

South Africafor example, has a well-developed and regulated taxation regime based on international best practice. In South Africa, where an individual has been away from the country for more than 183 days of which there is a continuous period of 60 days spent away from the country, then the individual is considered to be non-resident.

Tax on income is source-based, meaning that all income arising from a source within, or deemed to be within, South Africa is taxed. On the other hand, income not accrued in on or derived from South Africa is not taxable. In the UK, the income tax liability of one who is neither resident nor ordinarily resident in the UK is limited to any tax deducted at source on UK income. If one becomes non-resident i.e. does not spend more than 183 days in a tax year in the country, they do not pay UK tax on their overseas income.

It is a high time that the tax law in Kenya came out clearly and spelt out at what point one is considered non-resident for tax purposes and stops placing the burden of having to file tax returns for Kenyans who have left Kenya for greener pastures.

I am sure this would not only give peace of mind to the individuals themselves, but also to their employers, who could be held liable for any taxes due if they had a presence in Kenya.

Maybe it is about time that all this bickering about who will take the slot for governor or senator stops and for us to focus our attention on amending some of our obscure laws.

The Kenya Revenue Authority should provide some simple guidelines on this so that many Kenyans living abroad can rest knowing that they don’t have to pay additional taxes because of a section of the law that just needs a simple fix!

—This writer is a Tax Manager, Deloitte Kenya.


Posted in Kenya | 1 Comment »

Kenyan cross country runner found dead in Alaska

Posted by Administrator on February 21, 2011

William Ritekwiang, 23, of Kapenguria, Kenya was found dead in his home in Alaska.

William Ritekwiang, 23, of Kapenguria, Kenya was found dead in his home in Alaska.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — William Ritekwiang, a sophomore distance runner on the UAA Cross Country team, was found dead in his home on Saturday. According to UAA Athletic Director Dr. Steve Cobb, the death was an apparent suicide with no foul play suspected.

Ritekwiang, 23, of Kapenguria, Kenya, earned all-region honors in cross country last fall as the men’s team claimed the west region title. He also was selected to the 2010 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Association’s Academic All-America team.

In a statement released on Saturday, Dr. Cobb said, “All of Seawolf Nation sends our thoughts and our prayers to William’s  family, friends, teammates and coaches. We are devastated by the loss of one of our outstanding student-athletes.”

Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Lt. Dave Parker says Sunday that APD is not investigating Ritekwiang’s death as a homicide, and is awaiting a report from the state medical examiner on Tuesday.

Source: http://articles.ktuu.com/2011-02-20/apparent-suicide_28612769

Posted in Diaspora News | 4 Comments »

Wafalme’s ‘Me And My Bike’: Teens From Kenya Slums Rap About Bicycles (VIDEO)

Posted by Administrator on February 21, 2011

A group of teenagers from the slums of Nairobi have joined together to make a winning video on environmental protection.

The film competition “1 Minute To Save The World” challenged young filmmakers to create a one-minute video about climate change. The competition received films from around the globe, with submissions arriving everywhere from Mexico to Vietnam. Judges included Frank Oz (“The Muppet Show”) and Bruce Parry (“Tribe”). “Me And My Bike” won the $8000 Passion Pictures Best Film and Artists Project Earth Youth Visions award.

“Me And My Bike” is a video created by Wafalme, a group of inspired Kenyan teens who communicate various messages through hip-hop. They are also known for creating “Trash Is Cash,” a video offering recycling solutions for their neighborhood, which lacks trash collection – despite the fact that 1.5 tons of trash per day is dumped on their land from Nairobi.

In Wafalme’s newest video on bicycling, the group offers the simple yet very real message that bicycles are an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation that can cut down on worldwide carbon dioxide emissions. One lyric states, “It’s good for my health, because I need to exercise, it doesn’t need any gas, just my feet and my eyes.”

Reports show that if a person substitutes one day’s worth of driving with biking per week, in one year he could reduce CO2 emissions by over 1,000 pounds, and save more than $800 on gas and maintenance. Not to mention the nearly 20 pounds he may lose.

According to winning participant Dickson Oyugi, “Most of us just sit and wait for the governments to take action about climate change… together we can, with small actions in our daily life, make a difference.” Except that Wafalme has taken big actions to make a difference.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/21/wafalme-me-and-my-bike_n_824158.html

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Quincy Timberlake Booed On Churchill Live

Posted by Administrator on February 21, 2011

Mr and Mrs Esther Arunga were guests on popular talk show Churchill Live but not everyone was happy to see Mr Arunga, aka Quincy Timberlake alias Fizzledog.
The crowd’s boos were so loud that the show’s host, Churchill was forced to intervene and restore a semblance of order on the set.
It did not help matters that he still exuded that fake arrogance he is known for lashing out at the media saying he will be Kenya’s president whether they like it or not.
Unless you have been living in North Korea, you know he is one of the most hated people in Kenya right up there with our politicians. People blame Quincy and Hellon for “ruining” Esther Arunga’s life.
On her part, Esther, who cradled her one month old son, Sinclair, was very warmly received by the crowd but she still needs to snap out of her fairytale dream of getting into parliament as winner of the Karachuonyo seat next year.

Source: http://izvipi.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=274:quincy-timberlake-booed-on-churchill-live&catid=35:c-profiles&Itemid=27

Posted in Kenya | 2 Comments »

Media tells President, PM to act

Posted by Administrator on February 21, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 21- President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have been urged to break the deadlock over judicial nominees so that the enactment of the new Constitution can be realised.

The Media Owners Association pointed out that through consensus, the country would safeguard the gains made in the search for a new set of laws.

“Our leadership must take and keep the view of the bigger picture all the time. Sense must prevail now and always. They must calm down and recognise the historic sense of the occasion that they have been given to execute,” MOA chairman Samuel K. Macharia said at a news conference.

Mr Macharia expressed concern over the differences that were being exhibited by parliamentarians over the nominations row.

“We are standing up now to say that actions like the ones contemplated against the Speaker will only exacerbate an already polarised country,” he said.

MPs from PNU affiliated parties opposed to Prime Minister Raila Odinga are planning to overturn the ruling or censor the Speaker, saying that he went beyond his powers.

House Speaker Kenneth Marende last Thursday declared President Kibaki’s nominations unconstitutional.

President Kibaki nominated Justice Alnashir Visram for Chief Justice, Githu Muigai (Attorney General), Kioko Kilukumi (Director of Public Prosecutions) and Mr William Kirwa (Controller of Budget), but there was a hitch following complaints to Parliament by Prime Minister Raila Odinga that he had not been consulted as prescribed in the Constitution.

Speaking after a meeting of MOA members, Mr Macharia said their demands “were in the public interest and the need to support the full and diligent implementation of the new Constitution.”

They expressed regret that Kenya’s leadership was willing to divide Kenyans by rallying them around tribal causes and whipping up negative emotions about other communities and their leaders.

“We see a leadership that has forgotten the horror and the very serious economic impact of the violence. We are seeing very ominous signs that we have hardly moved from the precipice that this country very nearly plunged into,” Mr Macharia said.

Tom Mshindi from the Nation Media Group said the media would continue to play its role as an independent and impartial entity in its coverage of the subject in order to keep Kenyans informed.

The Media owners also said “We will not stand by and play the role of the public megaphones to allow media platforms spread negative images and messages of hate and divisiveness.”

“We do not want to be misunderstood as saying that we want to curtail the freedoms that anyone has, but we will be very strong and forthright in demanding that when you speak as a leader you speak as someone who is responsible.”

The association’s vice-chairman Kiprono Kittony said it would be a major embarrassment if the country failed to implement the new Constitution. New laws were among the priority targets set at the formation of the Grand Coalition Government.

“We appeal to the political leaders that even as they debate in Parliament (on Tuesday) not to abuse that absolute privilege and tone down their rhetoric because it is having a negative impact on the market,” he said.

Read more: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/Media-tells-President,-PM-to-act-11790.html#ixzz1EbuqrwSD

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Student presents research on suppression of women

Posted by Administrator on February 21, 2011

Mercy Dena is spreading the word on issues faced by women in her home country.

The urban and public affairs graduate student spoke about gender misrepresentation in the Kenyan parliament at a 40th National Conference for Minority Public Administrators convention, at the Sheraton Hotel and Spa in Fort Worth Sunday.

Dena received a Political Science bachelor’s degree in Kenya and has worked on the study from May to Dec. 2010. Her presentation addressed female suppression in Kenya and the lack of effort in improving the roles of women in the country’s government and society.

She said women are forced to take lower positions in the East African nation and struggle in education.

Kenya ranks 101 in the world for female representation in government, compared to the U.S., which ranks 70. Dena explained that the government is taking small steps to improve the quality of life for women, even though society continues to mistreat them.

She said women are forced to work at home which hinders their involvement in the work force, and women suffer mutilation of their genitalia.

“If there are no policies to protect women and girls, this kind of marginalization of women and girls will continue,” she said.

Dena said the U.N. is doing work to promote the involvement of women in government, and the fair representation and treatment of women across the world. She said the country is on the way to improvement, but it will take time before real change is seen.

“The drafting of the new constitution allowed an opportunity for gender quotas to be included.” She said.

Joanne Lovito-Nelson, institute of urban studies program director, said the annual conference presents great opportunities for students and professionals to meet and discuss their careers.

“For the students, it’s networking.” She said. “They’re presenting to people who will be their peers, and even potential employers.”

M.J. Bang, urban and public affairs alumna, said she enjoyed learning more about the work administrators do in urban settings. Bang said she also enjoyed hearing Dena’s perspective on the issue.

The conference began Saturday and runs until Thursday. The Institute of Urban Studies and the School of Urban and Public Affairs will be exhibited during the week at the Sheraton.

Those interested in attending the conference can go online at http://www.compaonline.org/.

Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya | Comments Off on Student presents research on suppression of women

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