Kenya and Mauritius sign new tax treaty following court nullification of earlier agreement

By Julie Martin, MNE Tax

The Kenyan and Mauritius governments have signed a new tax treaty following the Kenya High Court invalidation last month of a 2012 treaty between two nations in an action brought by Tax Justice Network Africa

The new Kenya-Mauritius tax treaty, signed April 10, was one of six agreements struck during a visit by Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta to Port-Louis. 

‘[T]he Mauritius-Kenya Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and the Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement which our two countries have signed will be crucial mechanisms in shaping investments,” said Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth during a banquet held in Kenyatta’s honor.

A 2012 Kenya-Mauritius tax treaty, purportedly ratified by legal notice published in the Kenya Gazette in May 2014, became the subject of a lawsuit brought by Tax Justice Network Africa, the first such challenged to a tax treaty in Africa. That treaty never entered into force because Kenya did not notify Mauritius of the completion of the ratification procedures.

In a March 15 decision, Kenya’s High Court concluded that the 2012 tax treaty was invalid, agreeing with Tax Justice Network Africa that the Kenyan government did not follow ratification procedures required by law because the agreement was not properly laid before Parliament. 

In its suit, Tax Justice Network Africa also said that the earlier treaty was harmful to Kenya because it reduced the withholding tax on services, management fees, and insurance commissions to zero percent from its current rate of 20 percent and, moreover, because Kenya gave away its right to tax capital gains from stock sales of Kenyan companies to Mauritius, which does not charge any capital gains tax.

The group said that the 2012 tax treaty would be abused in the same manner that the India-Mauritius tax treaty had been abused. The High Court did not address this aspect of Tax Justice Network Africa’s arguments, however.

As the new Kenya-Mauritius treaty has not yet been made public, it remains to be seen whether the disputed provisions in the nullified tax treaty are included in the new treaty. 

Tax Justice Network Africa’s director, Alvin Mosioma, called the court victory “a great achievement.” He said his group will determine its next steps after it gains access to the new tax agreement. 

 

Julie Martin

Julie Martin

Founder & Editor at MNE Tax

Julie Martin is the founder of MNE Tax. She edits the publication and regularly contributes articles on new developments in cross-border business taxation.

Julie has worked as a tax journalist and editor for more than 13 years. Prior to that, she worked as an in-house tax attorney in New York. She also holds an LLM in taxation from New York University School of Law.

Julie can be reached at jmartin@mnetax.com.

Julie Martin
Julie can be reached at jmartin@mnetax.com.


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1 Comment

  1. The comment by Tax Justice Network Africa’s director i.e Alvin Mosioma, called the court victory “a great achievement.” itself show that this person understood nothing about what the Court really said! As usual, TJN chooses to apply a one track mind based on its flawed perception of reality ! the mere fact that the President of Kenya signed a new DTA with Mauritius is a big slap on TJN’s face!

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