Blogging has become an increasingly popular way for Kenyans to earn income online. However, many bloggers are unsure of their tax obligations. Here is what bloggers need to know about paying taxes in Kenya:
Who is Required to Pay Taxes in Kenya?
In Kenya, anyone earning income from employment, business, rental income, or other sources is required to pay taxes. This includes:
- Salaried employees
- Self-employed individuals and business owners
- Landlords earning rental income
- Freelancers, consultants, and independent contractors
- Bloggers earning income from their sites
So if you are a blogger earning any income from your site, you are required to pay taxes on that income.
The key factors are:
- Are you a resident of Kenya?
- Are you earning income in Kenya?
If the answer to both is yes, you must pay taxes on that income.
You are considered a tax resident of Kenya if:
- You have a permanent home in Kenya and were present in Kenya for any part of the tax year
- You were present in Kenya for a total of 183 days or more in that tax year
- You were present in Kenya for an average of 122 days over the current and preceding two tax years
So even if you are travelling or living abroad as a digital nomad, if you meet the residency requirements you are still required to pay Kenyan taxes on your worldwide income.
Your tax obligations also depend on the source of the income. As a blogger:
- Income earned from sites hosted in Kenya is considered Kenyan-source income
- Income earned from sites hosted overseas is still subject to Kenyan taxes if you are a tax resident
So, even if your blog is hosted outside of Kenya, you must still pay taxes on that income if you are a resident.
Tax Obligations for Bloggers
As a blogger earning income in Kenya, you have a range of tax obligations:
1. Income Tax
All taxable income is subject to personal income tax in Kenya at a sliding scale from 10% to 30%.
As a blogger, your income from blogging activities like display ads, sponsored posts, affiliate commissions, etc is considered taxable income.
You must report this income on your annual tax return and pay the applicable income tax rate.
2. Digital Service Tax (DST)
Kenya introduced a Digital Service Tax in 2021 that applies to income earned from services offered through a digital marketplace.
- Blogging and content sites that derive income from digital advertisements
- Commissions earned from affiliate marketing through a blogger’s site
As a blogger earning income through ads or affiliate links on your site, you are required to register for DST and account for it monthly at a rate of 1.5% of gross transaction value.
This is an additional tax obligation in addition to income tax.
3. VAT Registration
If your annual turnover from blogging exceeds KES 5 million, you are required to register for VAT. You will need to add VAT at 16% to your invoices and sales to customers.
You can offset VAT paid on business expenses against VAT collected.
4. Filing Tax Returns
As a blogger earning taxable income, you must file the following tax returns annually:
- Personal Income Tax Return – Report your income and calculate income tax due
- DST Return – Report digital services taxes collected and paid
- VAT Return – If registered, report VAT collected and paid
These returns are submitted electronically through the iTax platform.
Taxes for Freelance Writers in Kenya
Freelance writers earning income for writing services like content writing, copywriting, proofreading, etc have similar tax obligations as bloggers in Kenya.
The key considerations are:
- If you meet the residency requirements, your worldwide freelance income is taxable in Kenya
- Income earned from writing services provided to Kenyan clients or companies is deemed Kenya-source income
- Freelance income is subject to personal income tax
- If annual turnover exceeds KES 5 million, you must register for VAT
- You are required to file annual tax returns and pay taxes owed
So freelance writers earning income from Kenya or abroad have full tax obligations if they are Kenyan tax residents.
Tax Rates on Content Creators
The term “content creator” applies broadly to bloggers, writers, videographers, influencers, and others who create online content.
The income earned by content creators in Kenya is subject to:
- Income tax at the applicable rate from 10% to 30% based on tax bands
- DST at 1.5% of gross transaction value for income earned through a digital marketplace
- VAT at 16% if registered based on turnover thresholds
So content creators pay all the major tax types – income tax, DST, and VAT if applicable. They must also file the annual returns for these taxes correctly.
Influencer Tax in Kenya
Social media influencers are subject to the same tax rules as other content creators in Kenya:
- Income earned from influencing activities like sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, etc is taxable
- Influencers must pay income tax at the applicable rate
- DST applies on income earned through digital marketplaces at 1.5%
- VAT registration may be required based on turnover
In addition, influencers receiving gifts or products from brands may be liable for tax on the value of those gifts. All influencer incomes and benefits are taxable in Kenya if residency and income source rules are met.
Tax Rate for Freelancers
The tax rate applied to freelance income depends on the tax bracket the freelancer falls under based on their total taxable income:
|First KES 288,000
|Between KES 288,000 – KES 384,000
|Between KES 384,000 – KES 576,000
|Above KES 576,000
So the exact tax rate will depend on the freelancer’s annual income.
DST at 1.5% still applies in addition to income tax.
Are Online Jobs Taxed in Kenya?
Yes, income earned from online jobs is fully taxable in Kenya if you meet the residency and source of income requirements.
- Freelance work like writing, design, programming etc
- Microjobs like data entry, surveys, etc
- Earnings from ecommerce, blogging, influencing, etc
As an online worker, you have the full range of tax obligations:
- Pay income tax at applicable rate
- Register for DST and account for it monthly
- Register for VAT if turnover exceeds threshold
- File annual tax returns
So online earnings are treated the same as any other income for tax purposes in Kenya.
Be sure to meet your obligations.
In summary, as a blogger, content creator, influencer or any type of online worker in Kenya, you have tax obligations if you meet the residency and source of income rules.
Be sure to register for the taxes that apply, file your returns, and pay your income tax, DST and VAT in compliance with Kenyan tax laws.
Maintaining good tax compliance ensures you avoid penalties for non-compliance.
Consult a tax advisor if you need assistance.