Expert Urges FG to Widen Tax Net

Ugo Aliogo and Peter Uzoho

The Past President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Mrs. Adebimpe Balogun, has called on the federal government not to focus on widening the tax net so as to accommodate the informal sector of the economy.

Balogun made the remark in Lagos, Wednesday at the eighth Wole Soyinka Centre Media Lecture Series, with the theme; ‘Tax Education, National Development and the Seminal Role of the Media.’

She stated that widening the tax net would help in improving the taxation process, adding that the low income earners tend pay tax more than the high income earners, but taxation is an issue that concerns everyone.

Balogun called for a comprehensive review of the tax laws, while urging the legislature to look beyond identifying the loopholes and focus on tax reviews and reforms,
“The tax law should be sustainable in order for it to be dynamic. The tax reforms must be painless and prompt. They should be constant review of the law annually,” she added.

The former CITN President further urged members of the public to continue paying their taxes, adding if they stop paying, the government would not have the funds to provide social amenities for the state and they cannot hold them accountable for not meeting their social responsibilities.

She said: “Taxation is not something the legislature should seat over for a long time. For the type of economy, we have, President Buhari should have put certain measures in place to remove ambiguities in the law. But they have not done yet. The public need to have interest in taxation. We should stop talking and focus on acting.

“There must be constant awareness by the media to the public about the issue taxation and what government is doing. The media should improve their investigative journalism on taxation. Multiple taxation by government at all levels has impacted negatively on the investment climate in Nigeria. There should be accountability for the tax revenue and it expenditure. It is ridiculous that our legislators are earning too much money, yet their tax details are not made public.

“We need to ensure that there is commensurate tax payment on their path. This will encourage people to pay their taxes. We should look at developing the productivity of other sectors of the economy. Government should look into the entertainment industry and harness the potentials of the industry. The industry is a strong employer of labour.”

In his address, a former Editor of THISDAY and publisher of The Cable Newspaper Limited, Mr. Simon Kolawole, pointed out that there is a social contract between the state and the society in the area of taxation.

He added that in developed economies, the issue of taxation is conceptual and the sociology of taxation agenda is working effectively there, “in those economies it is through voluntary compliance and buy-in, but in Nigeria, it is through coercion.”

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