From Uche Usim, Abuja


The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Friday disclosed that a mere 41 million Nigerians are taxpayers out of a population over 200 million.

The Chairman of the Service, Mr Muhammad Nami stayed this in Abuja at the ‘Public Presentation and Breakdown of the Highlights of the 2022 Appropriation Bill.’

According to him, South Africa, with a  lower number of 4 million taxpayers, generates N13 trillion annually from Personal Income Tax (PIT) compared to a paltry N1 trillion Nigeria generates from 41 million taxpayers.

Nami said: “Our total taxpayers today is in the region of about 41 million people and the total personal income tax paid last year was less than N1trn by 40 million people.

“If you also compare that with our own brother South Africa where they have a total population of about 60 million people, with just 4 million taxpayers, the total personal income tax paid in South Africa last year is about N13trn. You can now see that these things are not adding up.

“The number of billionaires in Lagos alone are more than the number of billionaires in the whole of South Africa but yet what we generated as Personal Income Tax by Lagos State Government is just just less than N400bn.

“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.”

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Nami added that as at September 30, only N4.2 trillion has been generated from taxes.

He revealed, “To address the issue of Nigeria not diversifying its economy, from a tax perspective, you will discover that we are actually diversifying the economy.

“The total collection we have up to 31 September which we have not fully reconciled with the CBN and the Nigerian Customs is about N4.2trn, and from this amount, oil related taxes accounted for only 22 per cent which is N950bn only, the non oil taxes we have generated within that period is N3.3trn.

“Secondly, to discuss the taxes that are being paid in the country and to say whether they are adequate or not, I want to believe one, they are not adequate.

“People are not willing to pay even when people are appointed as agents of collection, whatever they have collected is one half of the government s. They find it difficult to remit.

“When you compare Nigeria as an oil producing country to a small country of Saudi Arabia that the Honourable Minister (of Finance)has pointed out, we are still not there.

“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 200 million. We have an issue to discuss and to talk about how to solve our own problems.

“If you look at it from the rate of taxes paid, In Saudi Arabia with a population of ten million people, the VAT rate is as high as 15 per cent and what we have in Nigeria is just 7.5 per cent.”