Kemi Adeosun, broadcasted a live Facebook session on her Facebook page recently.
The broadcast is a fulfillment of the Federal Government’s Tax Thursday initiative under the new Voluntary Assets Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
According to Adeosun, “Oil economies tend to have a lot of oil and very few people. Saudi Arabia has 30 million people and they pump 10 million barrels of oil a day; so, if they wanted to share their oil, 3 people share one barrel.
“Nigeria, with 190 million people, only pumps two million barrels of oil a day; so, if you wanted to share the oil, 90 people will share a barrel.
“Most oil economies with a lot of oil and few people can afford not to have a real tax system. So, in Saudi Arabia for example, the tax-to-GDP is 6%, same as Nigeria.
“But because Nigeria is not really an oil economy, we can’t afford to do that because oil is actually 10% of our GDP.”
“What we found in Nigeria at the moment is that we only have 14 million taxpayers out of about 70 million people that are economically active.
“And the majority of that 14 million are people who have their taxes deducted at the source; largely lower income workers.
“That means that the tax burden is not being shared fairly. It’s being carried by those who are least able to afford it whereas high net worth people are able to evade tax.
“This happens because they don’t get their money deducted from the source. They largely work through companies and they are expected at the end of the year to compute all their income, deduct any relevant expenses, and voluntarily, under what we call direct assessment, pay those taxes to government.
“That’s not happening on the right scale. At the very high end, there’s a disconnect as those who are even filing and paying taxes are not even paying the right amount.”