Working Paper
The Tax Reform Experience of Kenya

In evaluating tax reform in the developing countries, one first needs to determine what is the unique role of the tax system in each particular country. One of the key reasons for undertaking tax reforms in Kenya was to address issues of inequality and to create a sustainable tax system that could generate adequate revenue to finance public expenditures. In this respect, the tax modernization programme introduced in the country was to achieve a tax system that was sustainable in the face of changing conditions domestically and internationally. Policy was shifted towards greater reliance on indirect taxes as opposed to direct taxes. Consumption taxes were seen to be more favourable to investments and hence growth. Trade taxes, instead of being used for protection or revenue-maximization purposes, were viewed more as instruments to foster export-led industrialization. Trade taxes were therefore used to create a competitive exports sector rather than protect the import-competing manufacturing sector, as had been done in the past. This study examines the reform efforts of the country, and reviews the strengths and weakness of the tax system as it has evolved over the past decades.