OJUANG: Taxation of betting companies should be well thought out

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We need not pretend that we know much about taxes and how they are calculated, although we pay through the nose. It is good to pay taxes and that is what makes our country move on.

We need not mix the issue with those of corruption and mismanagement of our taxes; that is like chalk and cheese, poles apart! It is a different ball game altogether and must be approached in a different manner.

Our contention arises from the recent directive in the budget to have betting, lottery, gaming, and competition industry pay a uniform tax across the board. The tax percentage is set at 50 per cent.

Of course this move was long overdue and most of us wondered just when it shall be effected and how much pound of flesh was to be excised from these mushrooming companies. That is the way governments the world over act on profits.

It is the same way that the popularity of pool tables dwindled at the millennium period. The government in its inaccessible wisdom realised that there were many Kenyans operating pool tables and thus slapped a Sh5,000 tax on all pool and snooker tables in the country.

The move backfired and the game just left the psyche of many who loved it. The competitions organised just disappeared. To date we do not know if any pool table proprietor ever paid the sum required by the government.

All we know is that those Kenyans that had learnt to build those complicated tables just saw their market fall to pieces and some of them must have veered back to the countryside where peasants scratch the barren soils.

The rest must have changed tack and took to making stools and other unimportant things. That is the effect of taxation without thought.

We are not saying that the betting firms should not pay tax. If we are paying taxes – and for most of us, the tax money is deducted long before we even earn our salaries – everyone else must pay their taxes and we shall shout ourselves hoarse if they do not complete their civic duty!

It is a must for each of us to pay what is required of them or else go to prison. Such is our patriotism.

The betting companies haven’t come out to clearly defend themselves from the new tax guidelines meted out by the cabinet secretary of finance. They have only covertly armtwisted the sports federations that benefit a lot from their sponsorship.

These federations – and that includes the Football Kenya Federation and the Kenya Premier League – are of course dependent of the largess of the betting companies. There are many football teams that totally depend upon the purse of the betting, lottery, gaming, and competition industry and once deprived of that source might as well fold up and cease to exist.

We have in the past tried to encourage the corporate sector in the country to sponsor teams and a few of them took up the challenge. That was heartening.

When we consider that our own squabbles in football and corporate reorganisation cost us the backing of SuperSport broadcast deal that ran…

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