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Tax System in Nigeria: Issues and Challenges

The Nigerian tax system has undergone several reforms geared at enhancing tax collection and administration with minimal enforcement cost. The recent reforms include the introduction of TIN, (unique Taxpayer’s Identification Number which became effective since February 2008), automated tax system that facilities tracking of tax positions and issues by individual taxpayers, e-payment system which enhances smooth payment procedure and reduces the incidence of tax touts, enforcement scheme (Special Purpose Tax officers), these are special tax officers in collaboration with other security agencies to ensure strict compliance in payment of taxes.
The tax authority now has autonomy to assess, collect and record tax. This enabling environment which came into being on the basis of (Section 8(q) of FIRS Establishment Act 2007) has led to an improvement in tax administration in the country. The Nigerian tax system has undergone significant changes in recent times. The tax laws are consistently being reviewed with the aim of repealing obsolete provisions and simplifying the main ones. Under current Nigerian law, taxation is enforced by the 3 tiers of government, i.e. federal, state, and local governments, with each having its sphere clearly spelt out in the Taxes and Levies (approved list for Collection) Decree, 1998.

Despite this improvement, there are still a number of contentious issues that require urgent attention and among them is the issue of the appropriate tax authority to administer several taxes. The crisis between Lagos State and the federal government on the tax jurisdiction of VAT in the state is still a contentious issue that has been taken to the courts. Other states like Ogun, Oyo and Benue have joined Lagos state, while states like Abia, have gone against this. Also, there is the issue of multiple taxes administered by all the three tiers of government which sometimes imposes welfare cost. Furthermore, the issue of the paucity of a data base, which contributes to tax avoidance in the country. The issue of corruption is still a perennial issue in the country; this reduces the confidence and trust of the taxpayers in discharging their civic duty.

The issue of infrastructural development is also a crucial issue, in Nigeria, the level of infrastructural facilities is in a deplorable state, most of the facilities are often privately sourced, thus a number of people wonder what the taxes collected are used for, hence the tendency to evade tax payment. Furthermore, the problem of the tax language that is legally codified makes it difficult for an average Nigerian to understand.


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