The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami, has revealed that only 41 million out of 200 Nigerian citizens pay taxes in the country.
Nami stated this at the “Public Presentation and Breakdown of the Highlights of the 2022 Appropriation Bill” in Abuja on Friday.
He added that in spite of the 41million tax payers in the country, Nigeria still generated less than what other African countries earned from Personal Income Taxes (PIT).
“If you also compare that with South Africa where they have a total population of about 60million people, with just 4million taxpayers, the total personal income tax paid in South Africa last year was about N13trillion. 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 but 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 wellbeing of the country,” Nami said.
The federal tax agency boss said that the overall collection up to September 31 which had not been fully reconciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Customs was about N4.2 trillion.
He added that from this amount, oil-related taxes accounted for only 22 per cent which is N950billion only, while the non-oil taxes generated was within that period was N3.3trillion.
“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 200million.
“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,” the FIRS boss said.
He also said that Nigeria, an oil-producing country, could not be compared to a small country like Saudi Arabia, saying “we are still not there.”
Speaking, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, urged citizens to always pay their taxes.
“The money from taxes will go a long way, by providing social amenities, among others.”