After a recent report by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) showing more than 100 Kenyans who have joined the Billionaire club owing to their annual profits, it has emerged that at least three Kenyan churches are also running businesses with annual turnover of between Sh350 million and Sh1 billion.
This signals that there is a heightened involvement by religious institutions in taxable commercial activities to boost their incomes and that of the country.
KRA’s latest listing on the taxpayers in the above tax bracket has included the Coptic Orthodox Church, Nairobi Pentecostal Church (NPC) and Seventh Day Adventist Church among the ‘silent billionaires’.
The three Churches have been listed in the same league as Kirinyaga Construction, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Google Kenya, among others.
In Kenya, religious organizations are required to file returns every year, although are exempted from most taxes in accordance to the Non-Governmental Organizations and Co-ordination Act.
Kenya has seen an increase in investment on education, healthcare, financial services, hospitality and real estate by religious institutions to bolster their incomes and reduce the burden of tithes and offerings from their members.
Surprisingly, the Catholic Church, which controls some of the largest real estate portfolios in Kenya, including undeveloped land is not on the list.