Tweet misleads on amount of rental income tax in Kenya

A tweet claiming Kenya’s rental income tax has increased from 10 percent percent to 30 percent has been shared thousands of times in online posts. The tweet surfaced as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) announced plans to expand its tax base by collecting data on rental property in the capital Nairobi. But the claim is false: rental income tax is capped at a flat rate of 10 percent per month except for property owners earning more than 15 million Kenyan shillings (about $121,000) per year.

“LANDLORDS will now pay 30% rental income tax to this new government. Meaning if a tenant pays rent Ksh20,000 per month, Ksh6000 will go to KRA. Expect landlords to raise your rent hustlers Tighten your belts, freedom is here (sic),” reads the tweet published on November 21, 2022, which has been retweeted more than 2,000 times.

Screenshot showing the false tweet, taken on January 19, 2023

The post was published by a Twitter user who goes by the name of Madoka Kibet and runs a news blog.

The tweet subtly mocks the new government under the leadership of President William Ruto, who during his 2022 elections campaign branded himself a champion of the poor and downtrodden. He vowed to tackle the high cost of living in the country and create new jobs.

In his first major policy as president, however, Ruto scrapped a subsidy on fuel, which was set by his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta to cushion Kenyans from the rising cost of living caused by the knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine, climate change and Covid-19. This saw the fuel prices increase to an all-time high.

On September 17, 2022, Ruto further announced that his administration would not offer Kenyans subsidies on food items such as maize flour—Kenya's staple food.

This has caused a backlash against Ruto’s administration on social media.

However, the KRA has not increased rental property income tax to 30 percent.

Not 30 percent

The KRA has made no announcements about any new or future tax hikes. It is yet to reply to AFP Fact Check's request for comment.

In Kenya, rental income tax is charged on both residential and commercial properties and is paid either monthly or annually.

According to the KRA, the monthly rental income in the country is capped at a rate of 10 percent on the gross payment received on both residential and commercial properties.

The 10 percent rate is paid by residents earning rental incomes ranging between 288,000 to 15 million Kenyan shillings ($2,320 to $120,870) per year.

Those earning less than 288,000 Kenyan shillings annually are exempted from paying the tax while those who pocket 15 million Kenyan shillings and above pay a 30 percent tax.

In November 2022, the KRA said it would start collecting data on rental properties in Nairobi County and its environs in an effort to boost revenues.