Tax Evasion and Revenue Generation; a Case for the Nation of Nigeria – Maxwell Adeyemi Adeleye

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Unarguably, ever since crude oil was discovered in Nigeria on 15 January 1956, the country has never remained the same. The nation of Nigeria has strategically abandoned other sources of income where the nation could rake-in trillions of naira annually.

Until the discovery of crude oil, Nigeria’s major sources of income were majorly agricultural products such as groundnut, cocoa, cashew, palm oil etc. These products are free gifts of nature that are extracted and exported overseas under import-export substitutions policy of the then Nigerian government. 

Through income earned from cocoa and other agricultural products, late Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western Region of Nigeria, built Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Cocoa House, Ibadan, Western Nigeria Television Authority (Now NTA), Ibadan, Oodua Textile Industry, Ado-Ekiti, Ire-Ekiti Brick Industry, Igbemo Processing Mill, Ifon Ceramics, Okitipupa Oil Palm Mill, Oluwa Glasses, Igbokoda all In the Present Ondo State and many more for his people.
 
Succinctly, with agriculture as her major source of revenue, Nigeria hits the ground running immediately she was granted independent on October 1st 1960. Now, what Nigeria has as main source of income is crude oil. Other income generating sectors have been jettisoned for oil boom that is now more of a curse than a blessing for the Nigerian people. 

The PANACEA! Great nations develop through tax. America and Britain live almost on TAX. I can say through direct observation that Nigeria Tax Policy is too weak and archaic. Nigerian leaders have allowed more money to be taken out of Nigeria by neo-colonialists masquerading as owners of multi-national corporations in the country than what they (the neo-colonialists) pay as TAX. 

For the fact that oil might one day dry up and with the calculated eradication of agriculture from the map of Nigeria economy, an EFFECTIVE TAX POLICY can remedy the quagmires currently militating against Nigeria development. With adequate TAX POLICY, we can get more funds to savage the infrastructural decadence presently battering the country.

First, PAY AS YOU EARN policy must be pursued with rigor. Those collecting fat salaries and allowances should be made to pay as more as they earn. I also recommend that Nigerian government should implement PAY AS YOU HAVE policy. With this, Nigeria could increase its revenue by taxing multi-millionaires and billionaires that liters the nooks and crannies of the country. The implication is the more properties one have, the more you pay. 

I am aware of the country’s tenement rate policy but apart from this, government should ensure that privileged Nigerians who possesses as much as 40-60 mansions in choice areas in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, Portharcourt, etc pay tax according to the number of houses they own. In fact, they should pay not only according to the number of properties, but also according to the quality of the properties. 

Let me I declare unequivocally that it is very unfair for someone who builds a house valued at five million naira on a plot of land at Ojodu, Lagos to be paying equal tax and tenement rate with a super-rich creature who builds a house worth One Hundred Million Naira on a plot of land in same location. The inequality in the payment of tax in Nigeria is antithesis of development and tax polices worldwide. Why would a building at Ogba-Aguda, Lagos pay same tax and tenement rate with a mansion at Banana Island, Lagos?

Government has also failed to boost her revenue through vehicle registration. The policy of Duty Payment designed by the Nigeria Ports Authority and Nigerian Custom Services should be adopted by those in charge of vehicle and plate number registration in Nigeria. 

In Nigerian ports and borders, you are charged duty on imported cars based on the year of production of such cars. The Duty of Cars manufactured in 2010 costs more than cars manufactured in 2014 even when the purchasing price of some 2010 cars are higher than those of 2014. 
 
Consequently, it is totally unacceptable and economically unwise for Nigerian authority to charge same amount for registration of plate number of 2000 model of Land Rover SUV and 2015 model of same product. It is also unwise for the vehicle licensing of a 1998 Honda Car to be identical with a 2012 Toyota Camry car.

Also, it is wrong for the Nigeria Police and Federal Road Safety Corps to charge the same amount as CMR and Road worthy-less for Hyundai 2001 model and Hyundai 2014 model. Oh! This is self-exploitation. Nigeria authority should wise up. A billionaire driving a car worth twenty million (N20m) should be able to pay two hundred thousand naira (N200, 000) for plate registration number after all the rich and the poor does not get equal treatment in Nigeria.
 
I also charge Nigerian authorities to de-liberalize our TAX SYSTEM. Nigeria is too liberal with multi-national corporations and corporate establishments owned in Nigeria. We allow these conglomerates to evade tax in the name of enticing them to invest more in our country so that the teeming population of the unemployed youths in the country could get work to earn a living. These people are exploiting our weaknesses. These expatriates bribe our government officials to get TAX WAIVEER. They pay less than 20% of what is due for Nigerian people into government accounts. 

Apart from evading tax, multi-nationals in Nigeria have de-nationalized their promotion and recruitment policies. Instead of offering Nigerians gainful employment, these TAX EVATORS have embraced CASUALISATION of employment. Unfortunately, these aberrations happen under the watchful eyes of the obviously oiled Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).

Another quagmire waging war against Nigeria’s TAX SYSTEM is corruption. The tax collection agencies are too corrupt, insincere and unfaithful to the Nigerian people. Of course, when you trade for someone, there’s cost of trade but Nigeria would have achieved more in terms of infrastructures and employment generations if 60% of what is due to the three tiers of government are remitted by tax collection agencies.

I make bold to say that after the civil service and the Nigerian Police, the Tax Collection Agencies in Nigeria are the most corrupt Corporations in Nigeria. From the central to state and to local government, tax collection agencies are almost richer than the governments. 

Today, Lagos and Ogun States have proven that the panacea for Nigeria development lies on the effectiveness of her tax system. Take for instance, under the administration of Governor Bola Tinubu (1999 to 2007); the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Lagos State was between #800millon to #2.7bn. 

Nonetheless, when the immediate past governor of Lagos State, Tunde Fashola assumed office in 2007, he created the ministry of Budget and Economic Planning saddled with responsibility of reforming the state tax system. Auspiciously and as predicted, the monthly IGR of Lagos state increased from #2.7bn to #18bn within two years and by 2015, Lagos State was already generating #32bn. 

In Ogun State, Governor Ibikunle Amosun inherited a monthly IGR of #600million from his predecessor. Today, Ogun state is generating #7bn monthly. What Fashola and Amosun did was to block leakages and ensured there was accountability in the system. Now, without the statutory allocations and other funds from the federation accounts, Lagos and Ogun states are financially sufficient to deliver dividends of democracy to their people with an amazing ease. 

The CENTRAL and State governments of the nation of Nigeria should ACT NOW!!!

Adeleye sent this piece from Magodo, Lagos via [email protected]

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