Most Nigerians already are tax payers, maybe not to the earthly purse

Nigerians have always being tax payers, this may not be that obvious but really they do – government agents from local to federal level need a lot to learn to make sure taxes go to the right purse.

When I was little in the 80s, in the then Oranmiyan local government, almost every adults pay their taxes, even the non-government staff.

People like my father makes his payment without any reminder, it was a flat rate for farmers. For the traders, it is mostly collected in the markets.

The other way to make sure fewer people slip through the net at the time  was to make it mandatory that all school children produce parent’s tax receipt in the beginning of academic year.

This system was far from perfect at the time, in fact it was open to lots of abuse and double taxation as people sometimes get taxed twice if unable to produce receipts at check points, however hard a lot of people paid up.

The biggest factor that contributed to people’s resistance is  that there were no public improvement whatsoever to show for the government revenues so over time, taxation of public stopped altogether.

Fast forward a few decades later, despite the population increase, it seems the percentage of people paying any form of tax in the same area has reduced significantly. Today, only tax paying adults are registered businesses and civil servants.

The myth of taxing poor masses

The poor masses wanted to pay taxes,  lots of challenges for sure, however, if this hasn’t stopped Lagos state from collecting taxes within the state, surely Osun can do the same.

For example a friend in Ogun state got taxed flat rate of 10k naira/annum for dried food stuff shop. People with similar source of income in Osun got off with paying no tax.

As it stands today many small enterprises in all of our towns are not paying any taxes to the government because no one is asking them or the misconception that everyone is poor so exempt from tax.

However, this same group of poor masses somehow are very happy to comply with the religious rule of 10% earnings tithe and sometimes, they do accept more or less according to individual economic blessings.

I wonder, if Nigerian churches could be so clever to instil in people the need to secure their ‘heavenly home’ through taxation, surely it should not be hard to convince the same group of people to pay towards improving their earthly surroundings.

From what I know growing up in the area, people’s resistance to paying taxes has nothing to do with being poor,  if there is more transparency in the collection and spending of people’s  contributions – they will happily obliged.

If any government is able to educate the people of Osun state on the importance of taxation, it will be Ogbeni Aregbesola as people love and respect his work.



Categories: Africa, Myths I grow up with, Nigeria

Tags: ,

6 replies

  1. Hi Fola,
    You seem to a lot of people interested in your blog. It is very interesting to hear how things are done in your country. In Canada we pay taxes on our income and we pay taxes on everything we buy (sales taxes). We pay taxes on our homes, our cars and licences and just about every else too. If they can think of it they will tax it. We also have a problem with them using this tax money wisely. Corruption exist here too.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Leslie. Very true, however by now everyone there is used to paying taxes because one can see this working for the maintenance of public amenities.
      This is slightly different from Nigeria whereby after 50 years of independence, we still do not have clear tax systems that cut across our regions. We pay taxes on cars and licences, income tax applies to those working for the government, no reliable data to chase all eligible adults – all other taxes are very ambiguous depending on state.

      The whole problem was as a result of reliance on oil to finance all of our needs.

      Like

      • You’re right. We need a clear and efficient tax system. There’s no fool-proof system but at least, one that will be difficult to abuse.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It always seems to come up to that oil, doesn’t it. Ou tax system has been in place for a long time but most people are unhappy with it. There is an element of unfairness and the gross mismanagement of our tax dollars does not inspire the taxpayer. We have an underground economy and there is no way they can stop it.
        Leslie

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha ha, See that huge step it takes to draw up the best tax system (given our situation) so all adults can participate is what we are still lacking.

          For example: I once spent a month in your beautiful BC, I remember been in awe when two taxes clearly shown on my receipt the first time, however, after walking down your roads, visiting public libraries and museums – I felt the taxes were justified.

          And of course I got your points about tax dollars mismanagement – I suppose there’s element of unfairness all around, eh?

          Liked by 1 person

          • It is pretty difficult to get it right. If the economy is buzzing along we don’t feel so hard put with our taxes. There is a shared benefit and most of us do agree with it. On the other hand, we do have some gross government missmanagement and it makes us very angry. Nothing is perfect this side of heaven.
            Leslie

            Liked by 1 person

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