The general principle in Kenya is that, unless expressly provided otherwise, expenses are tax deductible if they are incurred wholly and exclusively to generate taxable income.
Depreciation and depletion
No deduction is allowed for accounting depreciation or impairment. However, capital allowances are permitted at varying rates (on a straight-line basis) for certain assets used for business purposes, including buildings and machinery used in manufacturing, industrial buildings and hotels, machinery and plant, agricultural works, and mining.
|Capital deductions||Rate (%)|
|Qualifying investment exceeding KES 200 million (outside Nairobi or the municipalities of Mombasa or Kisumu)||150|
|Other qualifying investment||100|
|Industrial building allowance: *|
|Certified education buildings (straight-line)||50|
|Qualifying rental residential or commercial building allowance (straight-line)||25|
|Other qualifying buildings (including hotels, straight-line)||1|
|Wear and tear allowance:|
|Plant and machinery (reducing-balance):|
|Telecommunication equipment (straight-line)||20|
|Computer software (straight-line)||20|
|Capital expenditure under a concessionaire arrangement||Equal proportions over the period of the concession|
|Mining specified minerals:|
|Year two through seven||10|
|Farm works (straight-line)||100|
* Different percentages apply for previous years.
Cost of acquisition of goodwill and amortisation of goodwill are not deductible as they are capital in nature.
There is a specific provision allowing the deduction of certain start-up expenses, provided that the required conditions have been met.
A deduction for interest is allowed only to the extent that the borrowings are used for the purpose of trade. Where a non-resident person controls a company alone or with four or fewer other persons, interest restriction or ‘thin capitalisation’ rules apply (see Thin capitalisation in the Group taxation section). Companies involved in the affordable housing scheme are exempted, subject to Cabinet Secretary’s approval.
Bad debts are deductible in the year in which the debt has become irrecoverable in accordance with detailed rules under the Income Tax Act for making this determination.
Donations to qualifying charities and for certain public works are deductible, subject to certain conditions.
With effect from 3 April 2017, the Finance Act, 2017 provides that expenditure incurred by a taxpayer on donations for the alleviation of distress during national disaster as declared by the President will be deductible expenses for the taxpayer when determining taxable income. Deductible donations will be those made to:
- the Kenya Red Cross
- county governments, or
- any other institution responsible for the management of national disasters to alleviate the effects of a national disaster declared by the President.
Fines and penalties
Generally, fines and penalties are not deductible as they are not considered to be expenses incurred for producing profits chargeable to tax.
Kenyan income taxes are not deductible while computing income tax of a person. However, foreign income taxes incurred are generally deductible as an expense if tax credit relief is not available under a DTT.
Net operating losses
Losses calculated under the tax rules may be carried forward against income from the same source for a maximum of ten years, including the year in which the losses arise. The Cabinet Secretary may extend this period on application by the taxpayer. Losses cannot be carried back, except for petroleum companies, where losses can be carried back indefinitely.
Payments to foreign affiliates
Transfer pricing rules apply to transactions with foreign affiliates (both companies and branches/PEs). Additionally, there are restrictions on the deductibility of expenses incurred outside of Kenya by non-residents with a Kenyan PE.