Says only 10m Nigerians pay tax
National Tax Policy (NTP) document review Committee has advocated for an instutionalised statutory regulation compelling political parties and elected public office seekers to categorically declare the tax measures to be adopted and strategies towards shoring up the nation’s revenues, especially Internally Generated Revenues (IGR).
This is against the backdrop of information that only 10 million out of 160 million Nigerians are currently in the tax net, thereby depriving the country of main source of revenues.
They maintained that implementation of tax laws requires political will at the highest level of government, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must mandate political parties to articulate their fiscal policy in their manifestos and the National Assembly should give tax matters priority attention.
These views were articulated by the Chairman of the National Tax Policy (NTP) document review Committee, Prof. Abiola Sanni while addressing stakeholders at the maiden stakeholders engagement meeting meant to generate inputs from the public in respect of reviewing and updating the nation’s tax laws.
He cited that in United States of America, candidates seeking elective positions clearly make his or her stand known to the electorates on the their stand on tax and revenue issues.
The current NTP was developed since 2012 by the Former Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mrs Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru but unfortunately, the tax policy was never tested and implemented. Thus, the need to review, update the NTP to meet the demands of the current challenges in the country and be in line with international best practice.
According to Prof. Sanni, “We are considering having a revised document that is slim and concise. A document which will impose duties and responsibilities on all organs of government, relevant agencies and persons. We seek to fashion a document to which tax laws and their administering will conform in all ramifications.
“We envision a document that will eventually give a new lease of life to, and inspire far-reaching reform of the Nigerian Tax system in terms of structure, number of taxes, administration, and meeting our taxation objectives within the context of of the peculiar Nigerian environment.
“These are quite daunting but achievable if we are willing. Implementation requires political will at the highest level. It requires the buy-in of political parties. How? When political parties are drawing their manifestos and making promises to the electorates, it behooves them to consider the financial implications and tell us how their governments intend to raise revenue.
“They simply need to have clearly articulated fiscal policy as part of their manifestos. This is not likely to happen if there is no statutory obligation or regulation for example by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) mandating them to do so.
“Implementation also requires the commitment of the Natuonal Assembly to give tax matters the pride of place it deserves by establishing a separate Committee on taxation and ensuring that tax bills are given speedy, albeit thorough review passage as it is done in other climes.
Also speaking, a member of the tax document review Committee, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele who made presentation on the “Current National Tax Policy, justification and recommended format and proposed structure”, maintained that there is need for every taxable adults, institutions or companies to pay their taxes no matter how small it may be as it will help to boost the Nation’s revenue for use in development projects.
He advocated that for high consumption tax as most Nigerians have high tastes and appetite for expensive items and take pride in boosting with expensive cars, private jets, among others.
He stressed that the Federal Government need to institutionalise the tax system to expand the tax net, citing that currently only about 10 million out of 160 million Nigerians are in tax net.
Mr Oyedele enumerated some of the challenges inhibiting the current NTP as including need for more IGR, insufficient information, lack of accountability, lack of clarity, lack of skill manpower and inadequate funding, use of force and aggressiveness, obsolete laws and so on.
He explained that the review of the NTP was informed by the non-implementation, lack of awareness, lack of regular review, lack of political will, and change of tax environment.
However, he said any good tax policy will ensure ease of paying tax, the tax to Gross Domestic Products ratio should be higher without necessarily increasing tax, addressing multiplicity of taxes and being able to ensure that there is transparency and accountability.