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How to reduce your personal income tax in Kenya

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Are you aware that the personal income tax rate in Kenya is 30%?  Interestingly, by utilizing various legal provisions on Kenya’s laws and rules on taxation, you can significantly lower your obligations as an individual taxpayer.  In this post, Trailblazers tax consultants will give you a list of the best tax reduction strategies in 2022.

To get more money in your pockets from tax savings, you need to consider and use various tax management and tax planning tactics as outlined in the list below.

General tips to how to manage/ reduce your taxes in Kenya

The available tax saving methods in Kenya can be categorized into the following areas.

  • Reduce Adjusted Gross income– The Gross income is the total amount on which you are liable to pay income tax to the KRA. A legally reduced amount means reduced payable taxes. An example is charging business operation on your income
  • Tax Crediting- Reduce the amount of payable tax amount by introducing some activities that have exemptions such as Mortgages and life insurance
  • Invest in Retirement Plans- Investing in retirement benefits, pensions or the National security services fund (NSSF), entitles you to deductible reliefs.

The following section will explain these methods further in details. Besides, you will get the total estimated tax savings.

Tax planning opportunities for individuals in Kenya in 2022

The following are 10 tax planning methods for you to reduce your tax burden or liability in Kenya using legal methods. They are;

  1. Purchase Life Insurance
  2. Registered retirement benefits
  3. Mortgage interest deductions
  4. Affordable housing schemes
  5. Asset investments
  6. Stock options remuneration
  7. Noncash benefits
  8. Establish and or contribute to Charitable trusts & foundations

1.     Invest in life Insurance

As an individual taxpayer in Kenya, you are entitled to a 15% of premiums paid on life insurance policies with a maturity of at least 10 years. The combined relief is subject to a maximum of Ksh 60,000 per year.

You can take the policy on education, health or a life. The law allows you to take these one on self, spouse or child.

2.   Contribute to a registered retirement benefits

As an employee in Kenya, you can get an admissible tax deduction by contributing to any pension fund, whether a registered defined benefit fund or defined contribution fund.

In addition to reducing your taxes paid, you also get to build your retirement savings.

The employee’s deductible contribution is the lesser of:

  • 30% of pensionable pay.
  • Employee’s actual contribution.
  • Ksh.20,000 per month

Once you retire, when receiving your savings lumpsum, a sum of ksh 60,000 is deductible from the maximum of a Ksh 600,000 lumpsum. The rest of your savings are applicable to the current income tax bands.

 If you opted for an individual retirement scheme or pension scheme, and opt to use your retirement savings for an annuity you can then enjoy further tax benefits on

  • The first Kshs 300,000 of the total pensions or retirement annuities received annually are tax exempt.
  • Personal relief is applied to reduce the taxable income.

Finally, if you are a senior person who is ver 65 years old, then you are wholly tax-exempt.

3.     Mortgage interest deductions

Do you know you can reduce your taxable income up to Ksh 300,000 in Kenya per year? The interest you pay on personal mortgages is deductible from your gross income to get the adjusted taxable income. The total amount allowable per month is Ksh 25,000.

4.     Affordable housing schemes

You can enjoy a tax benefit of up to Ksh 108,000 per year by contributing to a registered affordable housing scheme.

It is a plan designed by the government to help individuals to save and purchase their residences. Its deducted at 15% of your contributions up to a maximum of ksh 9000 per month.

5.     Invest in unit trusts and collective investment plans

Another tax saving vehicle for individuals in Kenya is investing in acquisition and disposal of assets that do not constitute a business activity. According to the income tax Act sec 3(2)(a), A “business” includes any trade, profession or vocation, and every manufacture, adventure, or concern in trade.

You can choose to buy Unit Trusts or other Collective Investment Schemes such as mutual funds. You will only have to pay a withholding tax on dividends and interest income that they will generate. Any subsequent distribution from such those investment proceeds to members are also exempted from tax.

6.     Charitable donations

You can reduce your tax liability by either establishing or making donations to a charitable trust or foundation.

According to Sec 10 of the 1st schedule of the income tax, contributions to a tax-exempt entity is exempt from tax.

Further, in Sec 13, a registered trust is exempt from income tax.

Tax exempted entities according to the Act are an “institution, body of persons or irrevocable trust, of a public character, established solely for poverty alleviation or distress of the public, or the advancement of religion or education, all for public benefit, shall be tax-exempt.

7.     Noncash benefits and remunerations

Another avenue for individuals to save on tax liability in Kenya is through non cash benefits or remunerations. Some of the available methods are.

  • An employer can provide meals to employees and limit the cost of these meals to the tax-free amount of Ksh 4,000 per month (Ksh 48,000 per annum).
  • Where the value of a benefit, advantage, or facility is Ksh. 3,000 per month or Kshs. 36,000 per annum, then that benefit is not subject to tax.
  • Negotiate with your employer to be granted a n option for compensation using stock option. You will be exempted from taxation on capital gains for any increase in the value of the shares, from the date the shares vest (and are taxed) to the date of the actual exercise of the options. Though you should note this is not a common practise in Kenya.

Business operation expenses

Finally, you can consider deducting your side-hustle or business expenses on your personal income to adjust your taxable income.

A “business” includes any trade, profession or vocation, and every manufacture, adventure, or concern in trade. All expenses you incur such as rent, transport and telephone charges are deductible.   

Conclusion

The above methods present some available strategies for you to minimize your tax liability. As a tax management or planning advice, Trailblazers recommends you consult a qualified and competent tax expert for crafting the best tax plan for you.

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