Furious Kenyans threaten to defect over taxes

NAIROBI Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:29pm EST

Wesley Korir of Kenya poses for photographers after winning the men's division of the 116th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Wesley Korir of Kenya poses for photographers after winning the men's division of the 116th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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NAIROBI (Reuters) - Top Kenyan athletes may consider defecting to other countries if the east African nation goes ahead with plans to tax athletes' earnings, they said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in the North Rift Valley athletics hub Eldoret, Wesley Korir, who won the Boston City Marathon in 2012, and is now a legislator, led a group of athletes who are furious with the Kenya Revenue Authority's (KRA) plan.

"If this matter goes on like this, I will defect to another country which will appreciate my effort," said twice Berlin Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat.

KRA said in a statement that athletes should pay taxes like other taxpayers.

"We are taxed abroad. Then we invest our remaining earnings here although the Government does nothing to support us. We work hard to give this nation a positive image abroad yet we get nothing in return. I can chose to change my nationality now," said Kiplagat.

"We would rather invest in other countries that appreciate our effort than in a country where our earnings from our sweat is taxed," the former Boston Marathon champion said.

Korir noted that majority of the athletes are civil servants and have invested heavily in real estate and other businesses, which attract taxation, saying a further taxation would be double blow for the development of athletes.

The MP stated that the oil-rich countries pay handsomely for gold medals won in competitions yet Kenya's tax collector wants to find ways of making money from the athletes' earnings.

"Qatar pays her gold medallists 100 million Kenyan shillings ($1.17 million) while this country is trying to devise ways of fleecing the athletes of their hard-earned money," a furious Korir said.

He said that, contrary to common belief, they earn huge sums of money but pocket only 15 per cent of their winnings.

"The breakdown for taxation and deductions is as follows: 30 to 35 per cent for the country of origin, 15 per cent for the agent, 10 per cent for the manager, and now the KRA wants to add salt to injury by slapping a 30 per cent tax of that amount," he said. "That is exploiting us."

KRA spokesperson Maureen Njongo said they would ensure athletes do not pay the same taxes in two countries.

"Sportsmen should furnish us with details of their taxation abroad to be factored in our records," said Njongo.

Twice world 1,500m champion Asbel Kiprop said the taxation plan would spell doom for the already impoverished athletes.

"Athletes live in debt and pay so many bills to those who make them run, including air ticket refunds that if the taxation plan is implemented, it will kill the sport," he said.

(Editing by Duncan Miriri and Ed Osmond)

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Comments (1)
johnbicourt wrote:
Double taxation should not be applied as long as proof with the correct paperwork is produced to the Kenyan tax authorities.

One point overlooked by this report is the fact that money earned abroad is worth x 10 in terms of cost of living, land, houses and wages to any Kenyan athlete returning back home. A little different to that in Qatar!

The claim they only pocket 15% of the winnings is far from the truth.
Contrary to the claim, all travel is provided by or reimbursed by the race organiser as is all food and accommodation and an agent is the same as a manager. No athlete has two to pay.

“Living in debt”! Almost all world class Kenyan athletes are “millionaires” back in Kenyan compared with the rest of the population, and that’s the reason why they choose to train as hard as they do to succeed.

Back in the 80′s and 90′s there was virtually no tax deduction from events at source and very few ever paid tax on winnings, back home, but it catches up, like everywhere, eventually

Jan 23, 2014 4:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
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