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Relief to wildlife ranches as Lewa’s Sh80m tax blocked

lewa

Tourists at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The claim by KRA is alleged to be unpaid Value Added Tax (VAT) by Lewa on park entry fees over 12 years.
  • Lewa had told the High Court that it would be impossible for it to recover the VAT from all the visitors to its private park for the 12 years, as demanded by the KRA.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been stopped from demanding more than Sh80 million from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in a judgment that is likely to benefit other private ranches as well as the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The claim by KRA is alleged to be unpaid Value Added Tax (VAT) by Lewa on park entry fees over 12 years.

Lewa had told the High Court that it would be impossible for it to recover the VAT from all the visitors to its private park for the 12 years, as demanded by the KRA.

Justice Mary Kasango last Friday agreed with Lewa, citing the fact that the taxman had initially written and informed the firm that the gate fees were exempt of VAT.

Making a U-turn on an assurance it gave Lewa 12 years ago on the issue would be unfair, said the judge.

“The KRA to be permitted to recover VAT as it seeks would be unfair and unjust,” Justice Kasango said.

The verdict also comes as a major relief to other private, community and public conservancies, including the KWS, which manages national parks.

Other major private conservancies in Kenya are Ol Pejeta, Tsavo, Borana, Ol Kinyei, and Selenkay.