Companies need capital to generate wealth, and this comes from investors. Corporate taxation penalizes investors and later penalizes employees too as companies invest less.
High-taxing governments miss the point that wealth is generated within companies and that this wealth is continuously redistributed as remuneration to employees and investors.
As is obvious in any country, the level of corruption, bribery, and dishonesty in the tax system has meant that few people pay the tax they owe, small businesses die, and corporate enterprises are slapped with hefty fines for tax compliance issues.
It is a sad state, really. This is particularly true given that taxation hits different and has varying degrees of impact depending on the form it takes.
Corporate and shareholder taxes, for instance, limit the capital funds available for investments aimed at building a greater and more productive structure. What this means is that growth in the volume of productivity-boosting equipment, facilities, and knowledge resulting in enhanced purchasing power for investors and employees alike — that is, capital accumulation in the economy — decelerates.
Here is a fact, corporate firms are the source of most income circulating in any economy. But of course, their income depends on their client’s wealth but is the company that conducts the actual distribution of income in the economy.
When a firm makes profits, it means it generated more than the cost of production. This could also mean that there was a potential increase in the income for various agents. Shareholders obtain dividends, and employees may see pay rises in the form of profit-sharing.
Any profit that is retained as corporate savings serves to finance a future investment that generates new income to different players including current and future employees. Exorbitant taxes, that is, a system that doesn’t create an enabling environment is therefore equivalent to reducing all these income flows.
Over the years, corporate taxation has been a great concern in investors’ decisions and hence in economic growth and employment. As one publication noted, “unfavorable or complex and excessive taxation discourages foreign investors, drives out domestic investors, curbs entrepreneurship, and results in deadweight losses due to tax compliance and tax avoidance costs.”
Meanwhile, when taxation is friendly, the tax base is broadened, and this happens when more investments are attracted, domestic investment is encouraged, and entrepreneurship is stimulated. This entails greater tax compliance.
It is important to note that if Kenya had functional tax systems, it should focus on harmonization, reducing, and formalizing the number of taxes and levies affecting businesses.
Corporate enterprises, for instance, face punitive taxation that not only affects savings by the firm but also by its shareholders, who usually face double taxation.
All this is the basis of what Keroche Breweries Ltd is going through currently. Over the past two decades, the company has not had a level playing ground. It has constantly been slapped punitive taxation, on the company and Keroche products at the same time multinational products are zero-rated.
Sadly, many people have a different view on how this whole taxation issue went down. The thing is, being in a position that Keroche right now takes more than just guts – especially in an environment that isn’t conducive.
If all processes relating to the taxman were conducive, Keroche Breweries Ltd would be contributing so much more than it does now, and better than what the Kenya Revenue Authority demands.
For the public’s information, Keroche is the second largest brewery in Kenya with the latest State of the Art and First-Class Technology.
It has two beer packaging lines of 40,000 bottles per hour. This line was opened officially by Hon. CS Aden Mohammed when he was CS for industrialization. The second line is the one for 15,000 bottles per hour and this was officially opened by His Right Honourable PM Raila Odinga.
In total, it amounts to 55,000 bottles per hour in total capacity, and if the brewery operates at full capacity, with 121.85-shilling excise duty on beer per liter, the tax per day would be 56,964,875 shillings, 1,481,086,750 shillings per month, and 17,773,041,000 shillings per year.
This means that Keroche Breweries would be paying over 17 billion shillings if there was an enabling environment to make it thrive.
For the spirits, Keroche’s filling speed is 10,000 bottles per hour and at full capacity, with the excise duty of spirits being 278.70 shillings per liter. In a day, that amounts to 11,114,800 shillings in taxes. Per month, this is 278.7 million shillings and 3,344,400,000 shillings annually.
The projected annual tax would amount to 21 billion shillings, enough to finance two big counties in Kenya.
Of course, all this would be achieved if there were no bureaucratic costs involved in tax compliance, the complexity, and lack of transparency, all of which can be quite costly to the business.
Amidst all these issues, we can all agree that corporate taxation, especially in Kenya, is a drag on the economy. High-taxing governments miss the point that wealth is generated within companies and that this wealth is continuously redistributed as remuneration to employees and investors. However, companies need capital to generate wealth, and this comes from investors. Corporate taxation penalizes investors and later penalizes employees too as companies invest less.