MAKE TAXES WORK FOR PWDs

Tax justice is increasingly becoming one of the core themes in today’s economies. The government is charged with the responsibility of generating sufficient public revenue and ensuring that it is well utilized, fairly redistributed and focused in rebalancing economic and gender inequalities. NTA has committed through one of its strategic program focus areas to promote suitable tax regime and tax structures through research on key tax issues, identifying key types of taxes, assessment of tax regime to promote fairness and justice and engaging the National and County governments on tax measures that focus on fairness and justice. 

Women and men with disabilities can and want to be productive members of society. In both developed and developing countries, promoting more inclusive societies and employment opportunities for people with disabilities requires robust structures that enable them to fully benefit from the economy. Many societies are also recognizing the need to dismantle other barriers, thus making the physical environment more accessible, providing information in a variety of formats, and challenging attitudes and mistaken assumptions about people with disabilities.

The Kenyan government has made important progress in establishing specific social protection, economic empowerment and education programmes that directly support persons with disabilities. However, the caregivers are not considered yet they are faced with the burden of providing care to the PWDs. This raises the burden of care within the household that are caring for PWDs who are already faced with other costs such as clinic visits and medication. 

Additionally, the government of Kenya, at both National and County level, have been seeking ways to broaden the tax base by introducing taxes, many of which have an impact on small businesses in informal and SMEs sectors. The impacts of these tax policies affect the general population, but disproportionately affect the PWDs who can hardly afford the means to a decent living. NTA appreciates the provisions of the ARTICLE 209 that empowers the government to impose taxes and charges, also ARTICLE 201 C that stipulates that, the burdens and benefits of the use of resources and public borrowing shall be shared equitably between present and future generations; However, the National Taxpayers Association has observed that the tax-raising measures and the tax reprieves are not inclusive and do not take into account, the nature of the Kenyan economy that is predominantly informal in nature.

As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Global Disability Charter for Change, the Kenyan government has committed to the economic, social and political inclusion of persons with disabilities – who account for between 2.2% and 15% of Kenya’s population. 

Further, according to the analysis by Development initiatives on Government funding to support disability inclusion in Kenya, the funding to the social protection programmes has either reduced or remained the same over the recent fiscal years. This may limit the scope of the programmes that directly benefit persons with disabilities and hence the need to have tax systems that are considerate of this group, as a more sustainable approach in the long run.

By Joshua Muteti

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