Vice President Yemi Osinabajo has said that not less than five million more Nigerians have been added to the tax net following reforms in the tax collection architecture.
Prof. Osinbajo who spoke yesterday at the 20th annual tax conference by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) in Abuja, also said tax compliance and good governance should exist side-by-side as the head and tail of the social contract that binds – or should bind – citizens and the government in Nigeria.
“As of May 2017, only 14 million economically active Nigerians paid taxes. I am pleased to note that that number is now in excess of 19 million, and still growing” he said. That shows that more than five million new taxpayers have been added to the tax base.
Osinbajo attributed the achievement to the efforts of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), in collaboration with the State Inland Revenue Services
“That our tax-to-GDP ratio is one of the lowest in the world (about 6%) should in fact surprise no one. As of May 2017, of the roughly 70 million Nigerians who are economically active, only 14 million – or 20 percent – paid any federal or state taxes at all.
“The number of Nigerians who pay more than N10 million in self-assessed taxes is even more astonishing. As at December 2017, only 943 Nigerians pay self-assessed taxes of over N10 million and of that number 941 live in Lagos State, the other two live in Ogun State,” he said.
“The point here is this, that a taxpayer is less tolerant of corruption than a citizen who does not pay tax. Because most of what the government spends is from oil and the taxes of the few, many citizens simply see government money as belonging to no one. So you sometimes hear people supporting persons of their ethnic groups who steal government funds, whereas they would not tolerate the same persons stealing from their town union funds or any society they belong,” he explained further.
On the Treasury Single Account (TSA) the V-P said the “Federal Government realises monthly savings of at least N4 billion which would have gone on commercial bank charges.”
He also noted: “Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) has also tightened controls on the federal payroll and pensions systems, eliminating tens of thousands of ghost workers and saving us more than N200 billion that would have gone to these ghost workers.”
In his welcome address, the CITN President, Chief Cyril Ikemefuna Ede, said the theme of this year’s conference, ‘Institutionalizing Taxpaying Culture in a Developing Economy’, was carefully chosen after a deep inquisition as to contemporary issues that should be occupying the front burner of taxation in our nation’s fiscal space.