Kenya

Corporate - Other taxes

Last reviewed - 03 August 2020

Value-added tax 

Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied under the VAT Act, 2013 and the VAT Regulations, 2017. VAT is a tax on value addition and is accounted for using the input-output mechanism. There are five types of supplies that attract VAT at different rates: 14% for local taxable supplies, 8% on local supply of fuel (effective September 2018), 0% for zero-rated supplies and exports, exempt supplies, and supplies that are out of VAT scope.

VAT registration is required for persons making or expecting to make taxable supplies of over KES 5 million in a 12-month period. In determining the registration threshold, the sale of capital assets is excluded.

A person making taxable supplies below the registration threshold may voluntarily apply to the Commissioner and register for VAT.

Input tax on a taxable supply (or importation) may be deducted from the tax payable by a registered person to the extent that the supply was acquired to make taxable supplies. Input tax is allowable for deduction within six months after the end of the tax period in which the supply or importation occurred. To deduct input tax incurred on taxable supplies, a taxpayer must possess the requisite documentation supporting the input tax deduction.

Recent changes to the VAT Act, 2013 through the Finance Act 2020 has introduced an additional criteria for deduction of input tax. Taxpayers will only deduct input tax incurred on supply of goods or services if the supplier has declared the sales in a VAT return. This requirement may pose challenges to businesses since they may not have the capacity to establish whether their suppliers have declared their sales invoices in their VAT returns.

Taxable value is the consideration for the supply and includes any taxes, duties, levies, fees, and charges paid or payable on, or by reason of the supply. Please note that the TLAA, 2020 revised the determination of taxable value for petroleum products listed in Section B of the First Schedule to the VAT Act. Initially, the taxable value of these petroleum products excluded excise duty, fees and other charges.

However, with effect from 15 May 2020, taxable value of petroleum products shall be the consideration for the supply which will include any taxes, duties, levies, fees, and charges paid or payable on, or by reason of the supply.

The time within which taxpayers can seek refund of VAT paid on bad debts has been revised from 5 years to 4 years. Initially, taxpayers had a window period of five years to seek refund of VAT paid on bad debts aged 3 years and over. Following this amendment, businesses will need to be prompt in applying for VAT refunds on bad debts due to reduction of the window period within which VAT refund applications can be lodged with the revenue authority.

Import (customs) duty

Import duty is levied on importation of goods under the provisions of the East African Community Customs Management Act ('the Act'). Imported goods are generally subject to import duty at varied rates, including 0% for raw materials and capital goods, 10% for intermediate goods, and 25% for finished goods. However, a different rate of duty can be prescribed by the Council of Ministers of the EAC partner states depending on the agenda concerning certain industries. Enterprises established in an Export Processing Zone/ Special Economic Zone are exempt from payment of customs duty on machinery and inputs for products manufactured for export. In order to discourage offloading of goods from the EPZs a 2.5 % levy has been introduced with effect from 30 June 2020. while licensed oil and gas contractors with a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with the government of Kenya are exempt from customs duty on importation of machinery, spares, and inputs used in exploration activities, excluding motor vehicles.

In addition, enterprises that are established under the Special Economic Zones Act enjoy import duty exemption. Where raw materials that are not subject to 0% import duty are used to manufacture goods for use locally within the EAC and for export outside the EAC, one may apply for remission under the EAC duty remission scheme. This is subject to a requirement for proof of export, and one may be required to execute a bond/bank guarantee. Further, assemblers of motor vehicles and motorcycles, among others, enjoy import duty remission under the scheme.

Under recent changes through the EAC Gazette Notice, some measures are the incentives to manufacturers of baby diapers and mobile phones in line with Kenya’s Big Four Agenda.

Also, as was in the recent years, the metal and allied sector, textile and shoe manufacturers, and timber product manufacturers will continue to enjoy protection from stiff foreign competition.

Excise duty

Excise duty is imposed on the local manufacture or the importation of certain commodities and services. Excisable commodities include bottled water, soft drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, fuels, and motor vehicles. Excisable services include telephone and internet data services, fees charged for money transfer services, and other fees charged by financial institutions.

The TLAA, 2020 amended the Excise Duty Act, 2015 by amending the definition of ‘other fees’ earned by financial institutions to exclude other fees earned from non-licensed activities. This is a welcome change and will help reduce disputes with the tax authority on what ‘other fees’ should be subject to Excise duty.

The Finance Act, 2020 has amended the definition of ‘licence’ in the Excise Duty Act to mean: in the case of excisable services, ‘licence’ refers to the certificate of registration; in the case of excisable goods, ‘licence’ refers to the licence issued under section 17 of the Excise Duty Act; and in the case of carrying out of any other activity in Kenya for which the Commissioner General for KRA may impose a requirement for licence, ‘licence’ refers to the licence required under section 15(1)(e).

The Finance Act, 2020 has introduced a requirement for annual inflationary adjustment on excise duty rates to be tabled before Parliament for approval before the same can be effected by the Commissioner for the KRA.

The Finance Act, 2020 has removed payment of excise duty on betting activities.

The Finance Act, 2020 has broadened the application of Excise Duty on beverages with low alcoholic strength as follows: Beer, Cider, Perry, Mead, Opaque beer and mixtures of fermented beverages with non-alcoholic beverages and spirituous beverages of alcoholic strength not exceeding 6% now subject to Excise duty at KES 105.20 per litre. Further, Spirits of undenatured ethyl alcohol; spirits liqueurs and other spirituous beverages of alcoholic strength exceeding 6% will be subject to Excise duty at KES 253 per litre. It is important to note that this change will only affect beverages of alcoholic strength between 6% and 10%.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is payable on transfer of properties, leases, and securities. The rates of stamp duty apply as specified in the Schedule to the Stamp Duty Act.

The rates of stamp duty are shown below:

Activity Stamp duty rate
Transfer of immovable property:  
Urban 4%
Rural 2%
Creation or increase of share capital 1%
Registration of a company (nominal share capital) 0%
Transfer of unquoted shares or marketable securities 1%
Transfer of quoted shares of marketable securities Exempt
Transfer of houses constructed under affordable housing scheme Exempt
Sukuk arrangements Exempt
Registration of a debenture or mortgage:  
Collateral security 0.05%
Supplemental security KES 20 per counter part
Lease:  
Period of three years and under 1% of annual rent
Period over three years 2% of annual rent

Tax on capital gains (CGT)

Gains derived on the sale or transfer of property by an individual or company are subject to a final tax at the rate of 5%. The definition of ‘property’ is widely drawn and includes securities in Kenyan resident private companies (though a specific exemption from Capital Gains Tax (“CGT”) exists for securities listed in Kenya).

The High Court has ruled that Paragraph 11A of the Eighth Schedule of the Income Tax Act cannot impose an obligation on a taxpayer to pay CGT on or before presenting a transfer instrument for registration as opposed to upon registration of the transfer instrument. The KRA has appealed the Court's ruling, but no final decision is available at this date.

In addition, an exemption is granted where the transfer of property is triggered by either a change in law, a government directive, internal restructuring within a group (with the exclusion of a transfer to a third party), or a transfer made in public interest (the latter being subject to the CS’s approval) from CGT.

Payroll taxes

Payroll taxes are administered through the pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) mechanism of deducting income tax from employment income (salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, etc.). PAYE also applies to taxable non-cash benefits.

It is the employers’ obligation to deduct and account for payroll taxes on a monthly basis.

The PAYE deducted thereof should be paid to the KRA by the 9th day of the following month.

The employer should submit a monthly PAYE return (can be filed online using the KRA’s electronic platform, i-Tax). This return, known as form P10, declares the PAYE for a specific month.

lectronic platform, i-Tax). This return, known as form P10, declares the PAYE for a specific month.

The tax tables applicable to individuals are provided in the Taxes on personal income section of Kenya’s Individual tax summary.

Employers’ National Social Security Fund (NSSF) contributions

Employers and employees are obligated to contribute monthly to the NSSF a standard contribution of KES 200 each. However, the new NSSF Act provides for a higher contribution rate of 6% of pensionable earnings with matching contribution from the employer. The implementation of the new Act awaits conclusion of a pending court case.

National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions

An employer has an obligation to deduct and remit NHIF contributions on a monthly basis.

NHIF is payable by the employee at graduated bands, up to a maximum of KES 1,700 per month. The maximum contribution is reached at a salary level of KES 100,000 per month. There is no corresponding employer contribution.

Business permit

Every person who carries on a business in Kenya is required to apply for a business permit from the relevant local authority. The business permit is usually based on the size of one’s business and is renewable on an annual basis.

Tourism levy

The tourism levy is payable to the Tourism Fund by establishments dealing in tourism activities and services as listed in the Tourism Act at a rate of 2% of turnover.

National Industrial Training Levy (NITA) contributions

All employers are required to pay to the Directorate of Industrial Training a monthly levy of KES 50 per employee. The only exemption is for employers remitting the tourism levy.

Railway development levy (RDL)

The RDL is now payable on all imports into the country at 2% on the customs value of the goods. However, the rate will still apply at 1.5% for (1) raw materials and intermediate products imported by approved manufacturers and (2) inputs for the construction of houses under the affordable housing scheme approved by the government.

The Finance Act has maintained exemption from RDL on goods imported for implementation of projects under special operating framework arrangement with the Government. The Act has also exempted payment of RDL on machinery and motor vehicles for the official  by the Kenya Defence Force & National Police Service and currency notes and coins imported by the Central Bank.

Import declaration fees (IDF)

The IDF is now payable on all imports into the country at 3.5% of the customs value of the goods. However, there is a reduced rate of 1.5 % on raw materials, intermediate goods and inputs for the construction of houses under the affordable housing scheme approved by the government.

The Finance Act has exempted payment of IDF on machinery and motor vehicles for the official  by the Kenya Defence Force & National Police Service.

Advance tax on motor vehicles

Advance tax is payable at varying annual rates depending on the motor vehicles and is creditable against any CIT payable for the year.

Fringe benefit tax (FBT)

The FBT is payable by an employer on interest-free or low-interest loans granted to employees, company directors, and their relatives. FBT is due, whether the employer is exempted from tax or not, at the resident CIT rate of 25% (with effect from April 2020). The benefit is the difference between actual interest charged and the interest computed using the Commissioner's prescribed rate published quarterly. The directors and employees are not personally taxed on the benefit.

Betting, lottery, and gaming taxes

The Finance Act 2019 introduced a 20% excise duty on the amounts wagered or staked in betting activities.

Furthermore, under the Betting, Lotteries and gaming act there is an additional turnover tax on lottery and gaming at 15%.

Local government rent and rates

Rent and rates are levied annually on properties in Kenya, and the rateable value that is payable to the county government shall vary in each county based on various forms of ratings, such as area rate, agricultural rental value, or site value.