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May 18, 2024

Multiple taxes won’t work for Nigeria, says LCCI President

tax

ABUJA – President and Chairman of Council, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry LCCI, Gabriel Idahosa, has cautioned against the multiplicity of taxes by the Federal Government, saying the development was not good for the economy. Speaking on an Arise television show monitored in Abuja, Idahosa said it was not possible to begin to raise money for every little thing in government.

He said the federal government should instead increase the capacity of the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS to collect taxes, noting that not up to 40 percent of taxable persons and organizations were taxed. According to him, the countries that are most efficient in tax collection are the countries that have the minimum number of taxes.

His words: “It is not really possible to begin to raise money for every little thing in government. To levy for cyber security, industrial training, insurance, levy for police trust fund and others, the whole approach in recent times of trying to put levy on everything is simply not the way to manage public finance in any country.

“The business of raising revenue for government is assigned to a specific organization in government which is the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS in the case of Nigeria. It is the business of the FIRS to get revenue for all the services of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The countries that are most efficient in tax collection are the countries that have the minimum number of taxes.

It has been established during the time of the Taiwo Oyedele Tax Reform Commission that some of the levies and taxes that you create does not translate into significant increase in revenue and in any country, the agencies in charge of activities like these, whether it is high level intelligence or security, are funded from the budget of the country and the way they are funded usually is not a matter for public conversation. Nobody exposes the way the intelligence agencies of countries are funded.

“The technical issue of whether the Act was correct or not is minor. The big issue is should government of Nigeria encourage all agencies to be coming with all manner of levies for every single thing. You want something on health and you have a levy, in security you have a levy etc. That should be the more important conversation, that there should be a concerted effort to increase the capacity of the FIRS to do the job of revenue collection.

As we speak, not up to 40 percent of taxable persons are taxed. The first thing to do is to bring all taxable people into the net and then tax them accordingly. You don’t even need to raise the tax. More than 60 percent of taxable organizations and individuals are not paying tax. That should be the focus. The first level of taxation is identity. Identify economic actors at all levels right to the remotest villages.

The capacity of the FIRS to reach tax payers across the country was not built over time but with the dwindling of oil revenue, that capacity has been increased. You are beginning to see FIRS offices in several parts of the urban areas and state capitals but more than 60 percent of Nigerian businesses are not in the urban areas or state capitals. Any country that wants to collect tax, has to go very granular. Businesses that exist in every village must be taxed and that is where the FIRS is moving slowly but steadily”, he stated.