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Achieving tax compliance in Nigeria: A path to fiscal sustainability

Tax Appeal Tribunal begins digital operations to boost reforms

Tax compliance is a critical component of any country’s fiscal system, ensuring a stable revenue stream to support essential services and development projects. In the case of Nigeria, a nation with a diverse economy and a growing population, achieving tax compliance is vital to sustain economic growth and reduce dependency on oil revenues. In this article, we will explore the challenges Nigeria faces in achieving tax compliance and propose strategies to enhance it.

Challenges to tax compliance in Nigeria include, informal economy. A significant portion of economic activities in Nigeria occurs in the informal sector, which often goes unrecorded and untaxed. This informal sector, which includes small businesses, street vendors, and artisans, poses a challenge to tax authorities as it remains largely outside the tax net.

Complexity of the tax system: Nigeria’s tax system is complex, with multiple taxes and levies imposed by various tiers of government. This complexity can be overwhelming for taxpayers, resulting in non-compliance or evasion. Low tax awareness: Many Nigerians lack adequate knowledge about their tax obligations. This lack of awareness leads to underreporting and evasion, as taxpayers may not fully understand the tax laws or their responsibility to pay taxes.

Corruption and tax evasion: Corruption in tax administration can facilitate tax evasion. Some individuals and businesses exploit this corrupt environment to avoid paying taxes through bribes and other illicit means. Weak tax administration: Inefficiencies in tax collection and administration can hinder compliance. The Nigerian tax authorities need to modernize and streamline their operations to improve their effectiveness in collecting taxes.

Some Strategies to Enhance Tax Compliance in Nigeria include some of the following, to simplify the tax system. To increase compliance, Nigeria should simplify its tax system by consolidating multiple taxes and levies, making it easier for taxpayers to understand their obligations. This simplification should be accompanied by clear and transparent guidelines. Improve taxpayer education: Raising awareness about tax obligations is crucial. The government should invest in taxpayer education programs to inform citizens and businesses about their responsibilities and the benefits of paying taxes. Digitize tax collection: Leveraging technology can help modernize tax collection and reduce corruption. Implementing electronic tax payment systems and online platforms can make the process more efficient and transparent. Strengthen tax administration: The Nigerian tax authorities should enhance their capacity and capabilities. This includes providing comprehensive training to tax officials, adopting best practices in tax administration, and implementing performance evaluation systems. Combat corruption: Addressing corruption in tax administration is paramount. Implement anti-corruption measures, such as strict penalties for corrupt practices, and encourage a culture of transparency within tax authorities.

Read also: LIRS shuts down 34 companies, 23 hotels for tax evasion [LIST]

Encourage voluntary compliance: Offering incentives for voluntary tax compliance, such as reduced penalties or tax credits, can motivate taxpayers to fulfil their obligations willingly. Formalize the Informal Sector: Bringing the informal economy into the formal tax net is essential. Introducing simplified tax regimes for small businesses and facilitating their registration can help formalize these businesses. Strengthen tax audits and enforcement: Conducting regular tax audits and enforcing tax laws rigorously can deter tax evasion and encourage compliance. Enhance international cooperation: Nigeria should collaborate with other nations to combat cross-border tax evasion and promote information sharing for tax enforcement. Monitor and evaluate tax policies: Continuous monitoring and evaluation of tax policies and their impact on compliance are crucial. This helps in making necessary adjustments and improvements.

In conclusion, achieving tax compliance in Nigeria is an essential step towards fiscal sustainability and economic growth. While the country faces challenges such as a vast informal economy, complex tax system, and corruption, there are strategies that can be employed to enhance compliance. Simplifying the tax system, improving taxpayer education, leveraging technology, strengthening tax administration, and combating corruption are critical steps in this journey. By implementing these measures, Nigeria can boost tax revenues, reduce dependency on oil revenues, and create a more equitable and prosperous future for its citizens.

Medube works with the LIRS and writes via [email protected]