Review tax policy to make wealthy pay more —KWIRS tells government

The chairman, Kwara State Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS), Dr Muritala Awodun, has called for a review of current tax policy in Nigeria to ensure more tax revenue is derived from wealthy individuals and corporate organisations.

Speaking with journalists in Ilorin on Tuesday, Dr Awodun said that the Federal Government must align its tax policies with global practices.

Dr Awodun, who said that global practice on tax policy targeted tax obligation among top 20 per cent of the population in every nation, added that the percentage always accounted for 80 per cent of national tax payments.

“Nigeria needs to look critically at its tax policy and reform it appropriately to get our IGR right in the country. Unfortunately though, the category of people and organisations making this 20 per cent currently pay less than 10 per cent of their tax obligations because they have political influence and can always engage the best tax consultants and senior lawyers to have their ways. That is why we have the leakages in revenue mobilisation in this country.

“The rate given to these people is also low but if tilted to their right levels, there will be increased revenue for the country. By world standard, it is just 20 per cent of the people or organisations in any nation that pay 80 per cent of the taxes because the wealth of a nation is always concentrated in the hands of those 20 per cent and Nigeria is not an exception whether you will say those people got their wealth legally or otherwise”, he said.

The KWIRS boss also advocated a tax reform of 50 per cent tax on looted funds after proper investigations may have affirmed them as looted.

“Rather than run after people who we claim have stolen money, if there is a law that says such people will pay 50 per cent of fund in their accounts as tax every year to government after such has been sufficiently investigated and confirmed as stolen, that alone will discourage people from stealing because you know that, no matter what, you will be caught and you will pay 50 per cent as tax annually on the amount in your account”, he said.

On the allegations by local government chairmen that they were not able to pay salaries because the state government was holding their funds, Awodun said such was an unreasonable position as the collections by the councils could not fund even a month’s salary for their workers.

On the planned implementation of enforcement in the state, the Director, Enforcement, Legal and Monitoring unit of the Service, Dr Isaac Gbenle, said from November this year, defaulters risked various categories of penalties including imprisonment.

The planned enforcement will start with road taxes and corporate organisations on the first week of November, followed by property and tenement enforcement in the second.

“We will lock down a specific segment of the metropolis on nay day we want to do this because we need to enforce payment so that those who are already complying will not be discouraged and turn against the system in the future”, he said.