State should rethink taxes on education

Thursday, September 14th, 2023 11:00 | By
National Treasury building.
National Treasury building. PHOTO/Print

That the National Treasury is proposing to introduce about six new taxes to the education sector comes as a shocker to not only parents but also schools.

Introduction of more taxes only means more pain for Kenyans, coming at a time they are struggling with high cost of living and the never changing salary.

One of the proposals contained in the Treasury’s draft medium term revenue strategy include introducing VAT on services provided by schools but not directly related to education.

Although education services are exempt from VAT to make education accessible to all learners, the ministry says the benefit of exemption is not uniform across all learners due to differences in fees charged and services provided.

In some cases, the ministry explains, schools provide services not directly related to education and this exemption creates unfairness because some services like swimming when offered out of school are taxable.

To remove this discrimination, the Government has proposed the need to impose VAT on additional benefits.

But this has not gone down well with Kenyans and has sparked serious debate on the Government’s taxation system, terming some of the proposals as this, misplaced.

The timing of this proposal has also come under serious scrutiny given the fact that the country is implementing Competency Based Curriculum, which has seen incorporation of activities like swimming as a life skill subject.

Just yesterday, an opinion poll released by Trends and Insights for Africa showed that a vast majority of Kenyans, about 53 per cent, report earning less than Sh20,000 per month.

This is a clear indication that families are struggling to make ends meet and introducing more taxes amidst high inflation rate, while the salary scale remains unchanged is a major challenge.

The Government has time and again indicated that education is one of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda enablers, in a bid to ensure a level playing field for all children irrespective of their backgrounds.

It is important that the Government keeps its word on supporting all learners equally instead of introducing more burden to parents.

More on Opinion