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Kepsa criticises State on bettors’ excise duty bid

Fred Matiang’i
Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE 

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) has joined calls for the government to exempt bettors from excise duty, saying the practice amounts to double taxation.

The Treasury introduced a 10 percent excise tax on the amount wagered through the Finance Bill 2019, among other measures to finance its Sh3.1 trillion budget.

Kepsa public finance sector director Habil Olaka told Parliament the new measures are both punitive and unfair.

“We are proposing a zero percent tax on the amount wagered as the player currently also pays withholding tax on the winnings,” he told the National Assembly Finance committee during public hearings on the Finance Bill.

Players of sports betting are already paying a 20 percent withholding tax on winnings.

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Betting firm Betika has already started deducting 20 percent on customer winnings in compliance with a Kenya Revenue Authority directive.

The firm is the latest betting company to deduct the levy on customer winnings after Betlion, registered as MauUgan Enterprises Limited, made a similar move earlier.

If the government has its way with the 10 percent tax on the amount wagered, it will automatically collect a sizeable share of the billions of shillings that Kenyans have been staking in sports betting.

Mr Olaka told the legislators that Kenya would be the only country in the region to impose a tax on the amount wagered by bettors.

In April, Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced enactment of tough laws intended to curb rampant betting across the country.

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