Men will not be responsible for wives’ taxes in proposed Finance Bill 2024

OPINION
Men will not be responsible for wives’ taxes in proposed Finance Bill 2024

Men will not be legally responsible for their wives’ income tax obligations incase the 50-year-old law will be repealed as proposed in the Finance Bill 2024.

Last week proposal in the Finance Bill, 2024 suggested deleting the definition of a wife’s employment, income, professional and self-employment, income rate from the Act.

The proposed change in the Finance Bill, is actually a clean-up provision that aims to reflect the societal changes where everyone is individually responsible for their own taxes.

Currently, Kenya is relying on a 50-year-old law that considers wives as dependents of their husbands. It means that if a wife fails to pay her income tax, the husband is held responsible, including facing fines or even potential jail time.

“It presupposes that the income of a married woman living with her husband for purposes of ascertaining his total income and is therefore assessed on that basis and tax there on charged,” tax expert at Bowmans say in a Finance Bill, 2024 analysis.

President William Ruto’s government has proposed repealing the law that has been in operation since 1974, with the aim of bringing more people to the tax bracket and reducing dependency on debt.

This proposal has sparked varied reactions across different genders, religious beliefs, and cultural backgrounds.

“The contentious legislation that requires husbands to pay taxes for their wives’ failure to which they face some austere consequences, does not apply to the 21st- century men and women,” gender parity crusader and lawyer Joyce Memo said.

She also added, “we cannot purport to pursue gender equity when our laws are curtailing the effort.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Belamy Ng’eno, an insurance agent in Nairobi who insists that everyone should carry his or her own cross.

“Why should a man be liable for his wife’s tax obligations in 2024? That draconian law must be scrapped given gender equity talks. I bet most men are not aware of this,” Ng’eno stated.

Meanwhile, different church leaders have opposed the Finance Bill 2024, saying that the bible quotes a husband and wife as one in a marriage union hence they should not be taxed separately.

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