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Kenya Revenue Authority v. Republic (Exparte Fintel Ltd)

(2019) JELR 99926 (CA)

Court of Appeal  •  Civil Appeal 311 of 2013  •  5 Feb 2019  •  Kenya

Milton Stephen Asike Makhandia, William Ouko, Stephen Gatembu Kairu



R.M. Engelhardt, a New York based poet and writer in his famous collection of poems The Last Cigarette reminds us that;

“Words are powerful.

Words make a difference.

They can create and destroy.

They can open doors and close doors. Words can create illusion or magic, love or destruction. ... All those things.”

The words whose construction has given rise to this appeal are “paid” and “upon payment” as used in section 2 as read with section 35 of the Income Tax Act. As long ago as 1936 the House of Lords in Inland Revenue Commissioners v. Duke of Westminster [1936] A.C. 1; [1] 19 TC 490, which has been widely cited in Kenya, elucidated the rule of construing tax laws. Lord Atkinson said;

“It is well established that one is bound, in construing Revenue Acts, to give a fair and reasonable construction to their language without leaning to one side or the other, that no tax can be imposed on a subject by Act of Parliament without words in it clearly showing an intention to la…

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