AN ANALYSIS OF REGULATORY REGIMES FOR THE TAXATION OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCE IN NIGERIA

AN ANALYSIS OF REGULATORY REGIMES FOR THE TAXATION OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCE IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

No doubt, the advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has greatly

impacted human interaction ranging from political, religious, social and business transaction. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has contributed in a no small measure to the advancement in business transaction as it has taken the manner and channel of commercial transaction beyond the traditional method. Electronic Commerce, though a terminology recently introduced to the psyche of the Nigerian commercial transaction, it is fast gaining ground as it has contributed to the Gross Domestic Development. However, instead of government at national and at international levels to be benefitting from e-commerce in term of revenue to the government, the reverse is the case. Globally, taxation is a vexed question, and taxing electronic commerce creates additional challenges. This notwithstanding, electronic commerce holds tremendous potentials as a formidable source of governmental revenue in the light of globalization and increasing automation of commercial transactions in Nigeria. National and states tax authorities are struggling to find mechanisms to collect the anticipated significant revenues derived from taxing e-commerce profit. Government is yet to feel the impact electronic commerce in terms of revenue generation to the government. Therefore, this work examined the factors proved to be responsible for this ugly situation ranging from the fact that there is no extant law regulating electronic commerce in Nigeria to the archaic law on taxation which makes it practically difficult if not impossible to bring cyber income within the tax box, the ubiquitous nature of cyberspace where this electronic commerce takes place is being exploited as an avenue to evade and avoid tax payment, non-characterisation of electronic commerce to e-commerce in tangible products, intangible products and in services. The work employed the doctrinaire research methodology in analysing some tax statutes relating to taxation, examining the challenges in taxation of e-commerce which includes difficulties in exercising jurisdiction to tax cyber income, displacement of physical presence in electronic transactions, difficulties in assessment and computation of cyber income and lack of wherewithal on the part of the tax authorities in tracing of electronic commerce. It is quite unfortunate that there is no extant law regulating e-commerce in Nigeria the result of which is loss of revenue to the government. The worked was concluded by recommendations which are as a matter of necessity required for effective and efficient means by which e-commerce can be taxed.

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CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

From the down of history, co-existence among human beings has always been shaped and

reshaped by certain events. These range from natural events and most of the times, events

brought about by man in a quest for better life.

Man‘s quest for a better life has brought about Information and Communication

Technology (ICT) which has greatly affected all aspects of human endeavours. It is a

regime that has shaped various aspect of human behaviour in way that is unprecedented.

The breakthrough in science which led to Information and Communication Technology

(ICT) has led to a world whereby business transactions can be carried out without the

parties involved having to come together physically for negotiation, performance and

payment for the goods bought or the services rendered. This of course is a system that was

not contemplated at the making of our law on business transaction and taxation in Nigeria

which has become a challenge to the government on revenue generation.

There is hardly any government today that does not rely on taxation measures not only to

provide the much needed revenue for socio-economic development but also to reduce the

inequalities in wealth distribution in the society1. Thus the need to finance and sustain

government and its machinery in the discharge of it responsibilities has been the traditional

connotation of taxation.2 In Nigeria like many other countries, the proceeds from taxation

which includes taxation of income profits, capital gains, property, entertainment,

merriment, sales or purchase of goods and services, stamp duties, excise duties, export

1Adeoye I (2008), Significance of Taxation in a Nation, Journal of Private and Commercial Law, Department of Private and Commercial Law, Faculty of Law, University of Ado-Ekiti Nigeria; Vol. 1, p.1 2 Akanle O(1991), The Government, The Constitution and The Tax Payer. In Akanle O.(ed.) Tax Law and Tax Administration, Nigeria Institute of Advance Legal Studies, Lagos, p1

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duties etcetera constitute major sources of revenue for the government.3 It is therefore

means that we are in the era of tax consciousness among the various governments of the

Federations4 for each government from the state to Federal government is conscious of the

tax it is entitled to under the law.5

Tax collection and administration in Nigeria in this digital age poses challenges to both


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