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1.1 Background to the study.
Since the existence of human beings on earth after the creation phase, with the resources man found himself within which was put under his care, it is assumed that the creator put all things there so that man and his offspring might benefit from his creation. During this time in the world all human beings were equal, economically speaking and all were living an average life by exchanging goods and services for a living.
As evolution set in, man needed to be ruled by leaders of their own kind and this brought about the emergence of kings and queens. The people under each king or queen were expected to pay periodically, a kind of tax directly, either by giving the products they cultivated or by providing communal services (Ademola, 1996). The emergence of kings and queens as rulers, gave birth to social stratification in the society thereby dividing the society into two classes which are, the rich class and the poor class. These classes will share a similar lifestyle, which to some degree would distinguish them from members of other social strata (Haralambos and Holborn, 2004).
Social stratification set in gradually, civilization also paved its way into the society and soon it became clear that the human society will always be a composition of the have‟s who are the rich, and the have not‟s who are the poor. The era of kingdoms was slowly fading away, due to the advent of civilization, and governments began to be established.
When governments began to be established, the political systems was also going through rapid change at the time and so was the economic system also. The poor were dying off because of poverty and hunger and also due to their status in the society, they also had no access to social amenities such as health facilities, security, education e.t.c. These were the dark days of humanity because there was a very wide gap between the rich and the poor this gap was ever increasing because the rich were getting richer while the poor were getting poorer. Something had to be done urgently.
The emerging governments of countries in order to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor had to put in place a tax system that will enable those who have to provide for those
who do not have through the contributions of those who have. The contributions collected by the government from those who have was to be used to provide for social amenities such as security, health, education, employment, e.t.c. which is to be enjoyed by all in the society whether rich or poor.
The system provided by the emerging governments in countries as earlier mentioned, today it is referred to as taxation. Taxation is a compulsory levy imposed on a subject or upon his property by the government to provide security, social amenities and other amenities for the well being of the society as a whole.
Today, taxation has become an instrument of economic growth and development it is because over the years, taxation has become a key factor in shaping the fiscal, monetary, and investment policies in the government. How? this is true because the choices and rates of taxes chosen by a country, depends on the long-term objectives of the government of the country.
Economic growth is defined as a process whereby the real per capita income of a country increases over a long period of time (M.L. Jighan, 2003). Economic growth is measured by the increase in the amount of goods and services produced in a country. Thus growth occurs when an economy‟s productive capacity increases to produce more goods and services. Furthermore, economic growth implies raising the standard of living of the people, and reducing inequalities of income distribution. Economic development is when there is increased sustained economic growth for a continuous successive period of time.
In Nigeria, the constitution has vested the sole right to impose tax on the federal government of Nigeria. The tax system of Nigeria comprises of three components namely the tax policy, the tax laws and the tax administration. The function of tax administration is shared between the three tiers of government which are the federal government, the state government, and the local government. According to the Nigerian constitution, the federal government is the centre of power of the three tiers of government.
In each tier of government, it is expected that each government uses the tax system available to it for the primary aim of revenue generation so as to finance the expenditure of the public sector and provide good infrastructure for the people thereby increasing their standard of living, which will lead to economic growth of the country and in the long run economic development.
1.2 Statement of the problem
For any nation in the world to achieve economic growth and development, it needs revenue to facilitate its economy. In the Nigerian constitution, it is stated that Nigeria revenue goes unto the federation account before it is distributed among the three tiers of government these revenues are the oil revenue and the non-oil revenue. Though in reality the Nigerian economy is divided into the oil sector and the, “other sectors”.
Unfortunately, as at today, Nigeria depends heavily on its oil revenue to the extent that a fall in oil revenue would affect the Nigerian economy greatly. Due to the fact that Nigeria depends so much on its oil revenue it pays so much attention to its oil sector and does not pay any attention or very little attention at most to other sectors of the economy. This attitude has an adverse effect on the neglected sectors of the economy because, resources remain untapped, skills remain undiscovered, local industries are not motivated and are therefore not innovative, also the proper tax to be paid by these “ other sectors” of the economy are most times either evaded or avoided by tax payers in these “other sectors” which are most often overlooked by tax officials probably because to them the major sector in the economy is the oil sector. Looking at a situation where the Nigerian government decides to stop overdependence on the oil sector and give equal concentration to “other sectors” of the economy, more tax revenue would eventually flow in from other sectors of the economy.
Again, Nigeria lacks a good structure for the development of a good tax system. The reason for this claim is in reference to the informal sector. The informal sector in Nigeria are the road side vulcanizes, the road side stall owners, Hair dressers, the road side mechanics, the land owners, and the list is endless but, all the people classified under the informal sector are those people who undertake business activities but are not under a corporate body. Now in Nigeria, the tax structure is not functional because the people categorized in this sector do not pay tax to anyone because the tax authorities would never ask the market woman in the market selling her products to pay tax, or the road side vulcanizes to pay any form of tax, and so many others. Meanwhile in developed countries of the world that get their revenue from taxation the tax officials ensure that every individual in a way pays some form of tax to the government nothing and no one is overlooked no matter how insignificant they may appear. Unfortunately, In Nigeria today the majority of tax payers are those under corporate organizations who pay company
income tax, and also tax derived from petroleum which is petroleum profit tax. Also most people pay tax when they are required to provide a tax clearance certificate (TCC).
Furthermore, another reason why tax revenue is very low in Nigeria is owing to illiteracy and lack of awareness on the part of the tax payer. The petty trader and all other people in the informal sector have no idea that they are to pay tax and most of them do not even know who to pay to. Most people in Nigeria do not even know that there is a federal tax authority that is supposed to charge them on tax. Although, the tax authority is not entirely to be blamed for the significant level of illiteracy in the country, but the tax authority being aware of this significant level of illiteracy in Nigeria, should take it upon itself and carry out a mass tax education on the general public as to bring to light the purpose, procedures, and benefits of paying tax to the government and also to simplify the tax laws so as to aid better understanding by the masses.
Another problem is the lack of a functional tax system in Nigeria. It can be noted from all the points above that all is not well with the tax system in Nigeria. The tax system does not have a good tax structure to enable all citizens in the country pay tax. Also, the tax system is not functional because it is not efficient enough to carry out its responsibility which includes creating a good tax structure for all citizens to pay tax and not only citizens under corporate bodies or petroleum profit tax. They are to find a means of diversifying tax to penetrate into all sectors of the economy.
Finally, in conclusion, all the reasons stated above actually cripple the tax system thereby preventing economic growth, and only sustained economic growth can lead to economic development. Recently the revenue derived from oil has fallen drastically and Nigeria depends largely on oil for its revenue implying that there has been a downward shift in Nigeria‟s revenue. Although Nigeria can still derive revenue from its tax system if it restructures its tax system in a way that every citizen gets to pay tax, brings to public awareness the effect of paying tax and the penalties of not paying tax thereby aiding adherence to tax laws and generating large revenue for the government through the tax system.
1.3 Objectives of the study.
The primary objective of the study is to determine a way by which the Nigerian tax system can be used to raise revenue generation in Nigeria so as to foster economic growth and development in Nigeria.
The secondary objectives of this research are as follows:
1. To find out why the tax system in Nigeria is not functional.
2. To find ways on reducing Nigeria‟s overdependence on oil revenue.
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