Government extends amnesty window for Kenyans operating offshore accounts

At least 191 Kenyans were listed in the Panama Papers expose', as using tax havens to hide their wealth.

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Ministry of treasury has extended the deadline of repatriating wealth stashed away in tax havens across the globe by five more years beyond the initial June 2018 deadline.

As an incentive Kenyans who comply with the directive will only pay a 10 per cent penalty on returning funds after declaring the assets to the tax man, according to the Finance Act 2017.

“Where no funds have been transferred within the period of the amnesty, there shall be a five-year period for remittance but a penalty of 10 per cent shall be levied on the remittance,” Mr Rotich says in the Finance Act.

The practice of opening offshore accounts and companies is not illegal by itself; however it is highly unethical since these accounts can be used for highly questionable transactions like money laundering.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is eyeing to net up to $96 million if successful.

As of 2007 it was estimated more than $1.24 billion had been stashed away in tax havens by Kenyans sourced mainly from corrupt deals and public coffers.

In 2016, during the explosive Panama Papers expose' by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)  at least 191 Kenyans were listed as using tax havens to hide their wealth.

KRA imposes a 20 per cent penalty on the tax payable for any undeclared funds being repatriated on top of the tax payable.

A stiffer penalty of 75 per cent penalty can be imposed in cases where it is found that the money was intentionally kept abroad for purposes of avoiding taxes.

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