Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami, has said only 41 million Nigerians pay taxes out of the over 200 million people in the country.
Nami said this at the ‘Public Presentation and Breakdown of the Highlights of the 2022 Appropriation Bill’ in Abuja on Friday.
He said with only 41 million taxpayers in the country, Nigeria earns less than its counterparts across Africa.
“If you also compare that with South Africa, where they have a total population of about 60 million people, with just four million taxpayers, the total Personal Income Tax paid in South Africa last year was about N13tn. You can now see that these things are not adding up.
“The number of billionaires in Lagos alone is more than the number of billionaires in the whole of South Africa; yet what we generated as PIT by Lagos State was low.
“So, if we don’t pay these taxes, there is no way the government will be able to provide the social amenities required, the critical infrastructure required for the well-being of the country,” Nami said.
He said the total collection up to September 31, which had not been fully reconciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Customs, was about N4.2tn.
He said from the N4.2tn, oil-related taxes accounted for N950bn, representing only 22 per cent; while the non-oil taxes generated was N3.3tn.
He said, “People are not willing to pay even when they are appointed as agent of collection, whatever they have collected, they find it difficult to remit.
“We assume that we are a rich country, I don’t think that is correct, we only have the potential to be rich, because we have a very huge population of about 200 million.
“If you look at it from the rate of taxes paid in Saudi Arabia with a population of 10 million people, the VAT rate is as high as 15 per cent and what we have in Nigeria is just 7.5 per cent,” Nami said.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, urged citizens to always pay their taxes.
She said, “The money from taxes will go a long way by providing social amenities, among others.
“The government remains mindful of the need to provide safety nets to cushion the impact of reform measures on the vulnerable segments of the population.”