The Finance Bill 2023 has arrived, bringing with it a wave of changes and implications for various sectors in Kenya. Among those directly affected are communication professionals who play a crucial role in shaping how businesses and organizations convey their messages to the public. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of the Finance Bill 2023 and explore its significance for communicators in Kenya. Let’s uncover the key provisions, challenges, and opportunities that lie ahead.

Overview of the Finance Bill 2023:

We start by providing an overview of the Finance Bill 2023, highlighting its key components and objectives. We discuss the government’s fiscal policies, tax reforms, and other relevant measures outlined in the bill.

  • Introduction of a new 35% tax band for income above Sh500,000 per month. Currently, the top tax rate in Kenya is 30% for income above Sh2 million per year. The proposed new band would apply to income above Sh500,000 per month, or Sh6 million per year.
  • Increase in the turnover tax rate from 1% to 3%. The turnover tax is a tax that is levied on the turnover of businesses. The current rate of turnover tax is 1%. 

Extracts from the Finance Bill 2023

  • Introduction of a 15% withholding tax on income earned by digital content creators.

  •  Digital content creators are individuals or businesses that create and distribute digital content, such as videos, music, and articles. The proposed withholding tax would apply to income earned by digital content creators from foreign sources.
  • Those in the industry- 15% withholding , is quite punitive, be guided by the fact that its a withholding tax and hence once the brand owner does his returns, you are supposed to declare it as an income, in essence the total return should be about 30%
  • That in my opinion will collapsed the industry at its nascent, simple videos’ too more complex content will now be subject to taxation. 
  • Tax on eBooks, cryptocurrencies, NFTs
  • crowdfunding for raising funds for specific goals
    for a content creator or another person…. (quite ambiguous and could be prone to abuse)
  • The affiliate market & marketing where the content creator earns a commission whenever the audience of the content creator clicks on the product displayed..(not sure why this is necessary) affiliate market place
  • Increase in the VAT rate on petroleum products from 8% to 16%. The VAT is a tax that is levied on the value of goods and services sold. The current rate of VAT on petroleum products is 8%. The proposed increase in the rate would take effect   (You all know what this means to the price of goods and services….) 
  • There is a lot of pressure to collect taxes… the huge loans taken in the past and a current bloated government seems to be our Achilles foot…. What can we do as a country and as a people.

Where do we get the money…..?

As a people, and as GOK we may need to refocus our efforts. We probably need to……

  1. Deal with the bloated government—sure, everyone wants a piece and a reward for the work well done, but don’t we all realize this is quite unsustainable? Even if we need people to run for office in 2027, we will eventually destroy the country we worked so hard to create for our kids.
  2.  Is it time to consolidate certain counties? As retrogressive as it may sound, can we have a few counties reduce the bloated wage bill and improve service delivery? Perhaps we can also explore alternative models of governance that prioritize accountability and transparency to ensure the sustainability of our nation. For example, in the United States, there are some states that have successfully consolidated certain counties and reduced the number of elected officials. This has resulted in cost savings and improved efficiency in delivering services to citizens. Additionally, countries like Norway have implemented a model of governance that prioritizes transparency and accountability, resulting in low levels of corruption and a high standard of living for their citizens.
  3. The legitimacy of thought in the face of past failures and the underlying fear of what lies ahead are two issues I am aware the current government is grappling with. For example, according to the Economic Survey 2021, 40% of the total population would like to own a home, yet the 3% levy is meeting with some of the strongest opposition. Wouldn’t it be prudent , rather than bulldoze or make  it a payslip versus non-payslip issue which not only leads to disagreements but give a momentum to opposition have a national dialogue on the same?  Wouldn’t it be easier to explain the project and how it’s carried out? Ensure that those angling for homes through proxies are weeded out and the houses shared openly and in public?   The PS Charles Hinga State Department for Housing and Urban Development should request Mediatec Africa provide effective communication training as he almost drove the last nail in the coffin….🤣🤣🤣  Affordable housing , I believe is one the best well-thought-out ideas we have seen in along time, it not only creates employment, but also reduces on income pressure due to rent stabilization. Over time  I have seen afew acquittances and friends benefit from it, and the homes are in good shape and well thought out. Many people are unaware of how it operates through the boma yetu initiative, however  straightforward communication would significantly contribute to reaching an agreement with everyone who is opposed to it.
  4. Taxes are a necessary part of life, they are vital, but right now, the country and many businesses are struggling with their finances, sales are at an all-time low, and it’s not in one forum or meeting that concerns  lack of proper cashflows, business sustainability has been a ticking issue,  as people refuse or just don’t have the income due to the high cost of living. Isn’t it about time we built on a national consensus on what we can do as a country? 
  5. Finally, we appear to lack a national strategy on AI (artificial intelligence). The structure of work is about to totally change, and if not well planned out, we are in for massive job losses, yet in my humble opinion, I see opportunity for many people in the business, and the globe is starving for expertise in the field. 

We can only build on it if we sit down and think about what we can do as a country, and honestly, hefty taxation is not the answer.