The federal and state governments have been advised to address grey arears in the nation’s tax policies in order to increase the country’s non-oil revenue.
The Director, Fin Insurance Company Limited/Union Insurance Brokers Limited, Mr. Afolabi Elebiju, said there was need to simplify Nigeria’s tax system in a way that makes compliance burden very light.
According to him, the lighter the process, the less people are distracted with complying with their tax obligations.
Speaking on the theme, “Taxation: Building A Nation on Taxes”, at the fifth edition of the National Tax Debate, an initiative of the University of Lagos law students, held at the school’s campus recently, Elebiju who was the guest speaker, added that simplifying the tax system would drive competitiveness in terms of attracting global capital.
While calling for public education and mass awareness to help solve some of the problems associated with tax compliance, he, however, noted that “our tax system should continue to challenge itself on how to be more business-friendly.”
According to him, “we will continue to challenge ourselves with more and more ideas, leverage technology, artificial intelligence; engage data analytics to see how these things could help even in tax administration.”
Elebiju added: “Stewardship and accountability are part of the reasons why people are so keen on tax. What we noticed from the anti-corruption initiative of the federal government is lack of trust among the leaders and managers of the tax revenue. This should stop.
“We should make sure that we respect the rule of law in tax administration. The law is supposed to be an impartial arbiter that sets the standards of conducts for practice.
“And therefore, while the taxpayer is supposed to comply with the law, the taxman must basically comply with the law in carrying out his duties.
“Here, the role of the judiciary is very critical. First, in making sure we have a well-thought-out, reasoned decisions that represent what the law really says. “Those kind of decisions instil confidence in the taxpayers and the business community.”
He also advocated for the removal of anti-business provisions in the country’s tax laws, saying, “a very notorious example is the Excess Dividend Tax. This provision is so unfair to my view because the time you arrive at a situation where you have no tax to pay or your tax is minimized is also a function of the tax provision”.
Continuing, Elebiju, said provisions like that of the Excess Dividend Tax deter investments, advising that, “we should rather look at how we can make sure that our tax system is fair and not punitive.”
Nevertheless, he said the timing for the Value-Added Tax (VAT) increase from five per cent to 7.5 per cent might not be right, and that the spiral effect might do more harm to Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the President of the UniLag Tax Club, Mr. Olabode Akindele, earlier in welcome speech, said 18 teams from universities across the six geo-political zones participated at the initial rounds of the debate leading to the four that made it to the final.