Monday, July 18, 2011

Why I should also be exempted from paying tax

Sunday Nation 17 July 2011

In my relatively short working life, I have lately come to the conclusion, just like our legislators, that paying tax is an irritant I can best do without. I would, therefore, like to request the government to exempt me from paying tax; and below are five of my best reasons.

One, I come from a poor family. Due to the suffering I went through as a child when my family scrimped and saved (and paid taxes) in order to ensure I went to school and finally entered a profession, I hold that it is the government’s responsibility to exempt me and my family from taxation. This will enable us to compete on an equal footing with the offspring of wealthy Kenyans who had a head-start in life.

Few hours of sleep

Two, I work very hard! In my line of work, I hardly manage a few hours of sleep before I have to rush to work and save a few more lives. I think it is tempting fate to insist on paying me peanuts, and then bringing all your sick and suffering to me for succour. I should be adequately compensated for the work I do, and unless my income is increased by a factor of 10, I think it is dangerous for the government to continue taxing my meagre pay so heavily. Something will have to give.

Poorer relatives

Three, I contribute to the upkeep of my poorer relatives. I think it is the responsibility of government to ensure that its population is well-fed, secure, sheltered, clothed and generally satisfied with their lives. Since the government has neglected this important responsibility in respect of my clansmen and women, I have taken it upon myself to take care of their needs. It is, therefore, grossly unfair for government to continue taxing my income while expecting me to continue carrying its burden. This amounts to double taxation.

Four, I contribute to the funeral and wedding expenses of my friends and relatives. I attend numerous harambees, and contribute as much as I can afford of my after-tax income. The government should ensure that I am adequately compensated for this function, which once again falls squarely under the mandate of the Treasury.

Five, I simply cannot afford to pay tax. I have several mortgages running concurrently, and a few projects back in the village that I need to complete within the next few months.

Lifetime goals

Paying tax has proved to be a major impediment to the achievement of my lifetime goals, and I demand that the government exempts me and my family from its taxation regime, at least until I retire from my current job.

Since Article 41 of the Constitution guarantees me the right to fair labour practices, fair remuneration and reasonable working conditions, I would contend that I qualify to enjoy tax-free pay and perks.

Of course every right comes with responsibilities. In the event that the government accedes to my demands, I make the following promises.

I will not avail myself of anything paid for by the tax-paying majority. I will not demand sitting allowances to do the work I am paid to do. I will always pay for my transportation, and will take my children to private schools and universities.

Finally, I will not seek to occupy any public office.

Dr Lukoye Atwoli is a consultant psychiatrist and lecturer at Moi University’s school of medicine

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