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High Court petition challenges tax exemptions for churches, mosques, temples & other groups

The petition seeks to rope in churches, mosques, temples & other organisations to pay income tax

Dr Magare Gikenyi Benjamin

Dr. Magare Gikenyi Benjamin, a Kenyan Medic Consultant Trauma and General Surgeon, has filed a petition challenging the legality of what he claims to be an illegal, irregular, and discriminatory income tax exemption policy in Kenya.

The petition, lodged with the High Court at Milimani Nairobi, raises concerns about certain provisions within the Income Tax Act Cap 470, alleging that they contravene constitutional principles of fairness and equity in taxation.

The petition, registered as Petition No. E001 of 2024, specifically targets sections 3(2) and 13 of the Income Tax Act, arguing that these provisions create a closed group of individuals and entities exempt from income tax.

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Dr. Benjamin asserts that such exemptions go against the constitutional mandate outlined in article 209 and the principle of fair tax burden sharing articulated in article 201(b) of the Kenyan Constitution.

Dr. Benjamin contends that the identified sections of the Income Tax Act result in discriminatory taxation, leaving out certain individuals and entities from tax obligations.

The petitioner argues that this practice contradicts constitutional articles 27, 28, and 201(b)(i) & (c) by allowing specific groups, such as churches, mosques, temples, NGOs, and certain donation groups, to benefit from tax exemptions while others bear the full burden of taxation.

Drawing a parallel with George Orwell's "Animal Farm," Dr. Benjamin describes the situation as creating a scenario where some entities are considered more equal than others.

He points out that the so-called "exempteers" have been taking advantage of this legal loophole, amassing significant financial gains without contributing their fair share to the country's tax revenue.

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Emphasizing the importance of upholding constitutional principles, the petitioner highlights article 3 of the constitution, asserting that every individual has an obligation to respect, uphold, and defend the constitution.

Dr. Benjamin argues that the discriminatory nature of the impugned sections of the statute contradicts the constitutional mandate of equitable tax burden-sharing outlined in article 201(c).

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