Treasury calls on MPs to fast-track property tax law


Treasury building in Nairobi on June 11, 2020. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

The Treasury has asked legislators to republish a Bill that seeks to empower the State to review property rates every five years aimed at ensuring the government does not lose out on the appreciation of plots.

The Treasury has asked the new Senators to prioritise the enactment of the National Rating Bill 2021, which lapsed when the tenure of the 12th Parliament ended in June.

The Bill seeks to compel county governments to review their valuation roll every five years, a move that will raise billions of shillings due to the use of new rates that matches the appreciation in market prices for property.

Currently, the levying of property rates relies on the Valuation for Rating Act (Cap 266) and Rating Act (Cap 267), which were enacted in 1956 and 1964, respectively.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani told induction training for the newly elected Senators the current Acts are outdated and lack a clear framework to guide county governments in achieving optimal property rates collection as they are not aligned with the Constitution and devolved system of governance.

"In order to address the inadequacy of the legal framework to the imposition of property rates, the National Policy to Support Enhancement of County Governments’ Own-Source Revenue proposed enactment of the National Rating Bill," Mr Yatani told senators at a Naivasha hotel.

"The National Rating Bill was developed, approved by Cabinet in January 2022 and submitted to Parliament for consideration. The Senate is urged to also consider fast-tracking its enactment. "

Prices of land and houses, especially in the urban centres, have been surging in recent years on growing demand but counties use valuation rolls based on outdated ratings and laws, denying them revenue.

"Every valuation roll prepared, adopted and implemented shall be in the time being in force for a period of five years subject to be extended on or before the lapse of five years," the Bill states.

A valuation roll is a list of ratable properties showing owners, their addresses, locations of land, tenure, acreage and assigned value.

The Treasury says best practice requires valuation rolls to be updated every 10 years this has never been achieved.

If the Bill sails through, the counties will, however, be allowed to extend the validity of a valuation roll by up to two years.

The enactment of the National Rating Bill is part of the strategies the Treasury is implementing to enhance the capacity of the 47 county governments to raise additional internal revenues.

Property rate is a tax on the value of a property, including land usually assessed by a rating authority with help of a valuer.

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