Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Double taxation of Kenyan stars could ignite exodus, says official

PHOTO | BELGA - JASPER JACOBS From left to right: Kenya’ Noah Kosgei (second), Kenya’s Joash Mutai (winner) and Moroccan born Spain’s Jaada Abdelila (third-placed) celebrate on the podium of the Brussels marathon on October 7, 2012.

PHOTO | BELGA - JASPER JACOBS From left to right: Kenya’ Noah Kosgei (second), Kenya’s Joash Mutai (winner) and Spain’s Moroccan born Jaada Abdelila (third-placed) celebrate on the podium of the Brussels marathon on October 7, 2012. Double taxation of Kenyan athletes on their earnings abroad and at home has met with severe criticism.  AFP

By AYUMBA AYODI sayodi@ke.nationmedia.com

Pressure on the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to exempt tax on money earned by local athletes from international races abroad continued to mount on Tuesday with Athletics Kenya’s official in charge of the women’s committee arguing that such taxation would most likely lead to an exodus of the country’s elite stars.

It emerged a fortnight ago that the KRA had moved to tax athletes on their winnings from races abroad, even after the runners were taxed by countries hosting races.
Double world champion Abel Kirui, for instance, is required to pay close to Sh13 million in tax arrears while world championships 5,000 metres silver medallist, Sylvia Kibet, has been asked to pay about Sh2 million in back taxes.

Athletes invest heavily

There are many other athletes billed similar, or larger, amounts by Times Towers, regardless of having already paid tax wherever they won the monies in competitions abroad.

The official in charge of women’s affairs at Athletics Kenya, Mary Chege, said on Tuesday that their efforts to bring the standards of women athletes at par with their male counterparts would be scuttled if the KRA insists on their current tax regime.

Chege said the athletes have invested heavily in the country and double taxation would spur their exodus to other countries that take care good of their sportsmen and women.

Several top Kenyan women runners competed for foreign countries at the recent London Olympics, some of them having changed nationalities through marriages - like Dutchwomen Lornah Kiplagat, Hilda Kibet and Bosnia’s Lucia Kimani - while others changed passports due to better conditions offered by their adopted nations.

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