The continuous and consistent provision of public goods and services is highly dependent on the government’s resources which are primarily generated through taxation and establishment of an efficient tax collection system. As an avid advocate of the role of government in meeting its obligation to the people, it is my firm conviction that everyone should pay taxes.
Taxation is not a matter of choice and should not be left to the whims of individuals. Arguments that favor the voluntary payment of taxes are counterproductive and work against the drive towards economic self sufficiency. For instance if the general populace, public and private sector institutions were governed by this principle of voluntary tax payment, the taxation system would collapse and its main objective of generating revenue for public goods and services would be severely undermined.
What is urgently needed is a law that governs the taxation regulations in Kenya to ensure that a system of rules through which everyone is obligated to pay taxes is established. Upholding the rule of law is critical to the good governance of any institution, including a country. Therefore, it is imperative that a rule of law in taxes be established if the taxation system is to have a foundation for effective enforcement and implementation.
Currently, many people in Kenya have been misled to believe that the government is helpless against enforcing taxation upon Members of Parliament. This is far from the truth. In fact, it is only the government that has the capacity to table a Bill that will require MPs to pay taxes. Unfortunately, the government has repeatedly failed to present such a Bill in Parliament for discussion and voting. It is the Ministry of Finance that is charged with the mandate of presenting Tax Bills to Parliament. It is the Minister of Finance who is obliged to present the Tax Bill and not the MPs as the general public has been made to believe.
Personally, I have repeatedly urged and pressed the past and present Finance Ministers to stop dilly-dallying on the issue and present a Bill that comprehensively addresses the remittance of taxes by all Kenyans. In my view, no one should be exempt from taxation, not even MPs or other constitutional office holders such as judges, Members of the Electoral Commission of Kenya and Members of the Public Service Commission among others. All Kenyans should be held to the same tax regulations and preference should not be apportioned to any particular group of individuals, not even government officials.
I remain committed to advocating for measures that seek to comprehensively address the issues that undermine our capacity to provide the much needed goods and services for the well being of all Kenyans. The enacting of laws that ensure a taxation system that is impartial is an issue that I will continue to unapologetically advocate for. It is my hope that the Akiwumi Commission will lead to a legislative resolve that will satisfy the public and further fairness and equality of all citizens under the law. Rest assured that I will be the first one to vote in support of a Bill that comprehensively addresses the issue of a sustainable tax law.
Hon. Martha Karua