By Folasade Akpan
Prof. Ezekiel Williams, an expert in taxation says with the existing tax laws and regulations in Nigeria, there is no need to increase taxes.
He said this on Thursday in Abuja, while fielding questions from newsmen after the launch of his book titled: ‘The Taxation Pendula’.
Williams said that if the nation is able to understand and operate adequately, the tax laws and regulations there would be enough revenue to run the nation.
“ If you really have a good machinery in taxes you do not need to borrow money. In an economy, the product of the people’s wealth is a function of the tax they pay.
“ You do not need to borrow money to be extravagant, you borrow money for the need of the people and the people’s need is the function of that,” he said.
He, however, said that the nation is at its present state because of ignorance of tax laws and provisions.
“ That is why this book was written, because when you are properly informed you will know what we mean by tax.
“ Sometimes I say that what people call tax is not really tax, tax is not levy and levy is not tax, it is not fees or charges because they are all different things.
” So, when we are talking about taxation, you will have a broader knowledge about the matter. The level of compliance to taxation laws is dependent on the issues of knowledge on taxation.
” And that is why we are trying to clear the ignorance in taxation so that the people will be able to know because you cannot do what you do not know. So with this book we are going to have increase in compliance level. “
Williams said that taxation does not impoverish tax payers as people do not pay taxes on what they do not have, rather they pay taxes on what they have.
According to him, the issue of impoverishing indigent people does not come to bare in taxation because there is equity as a principle in the cannons of taxation.
“ It means that if you pay your tax you should be returned to the position you were before you paid your tax so there is no way taxes can be used to impoverish anybody.
“ It is just a civic responsibility we should comply with depending on our income,” he said.
Speaking about the book, the don said it is the solution Nigeria has been seeking for in its tax administration.
The author said taxation has been an issue because for any tax there must be a law backing it up, have a particular tax base and the rate for it to be said to be a tax.
“So what this book has been able to do is to ensure that in definitive terms the tax laws are well applied and then the rates are all well outlined and it cuts across all taxes in Nigeria.
“The organs of taxation, the Local Government revenue committee, the State Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Joint Tax Board, these organs of taxation ensure that we have proper tax administration in Nigeria.
“ You cannot talk about taxation when there is no back up of these laws and regulation so that is what this book is all about,” he said.
Chairman of the Occasion, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Sen. George Akume, urged all Nigerians to be acquainted with the authorities that taxes should be paid to and pay the due taxes.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Political and Economic Affairs, Office of the SGF, Nko Esuabana, he said Nigerians need to pay taxes so that the government would not have to always look for where to raise money when needed.
“We need tax to build our society. There is no better time than today for us to look inward on how to tax ourselves so that we will build our nation.
“ Here we are to celebrate our own with this book, to show us how we can make ourselves to generate revenue to build an economy, a sustainable economy, not the economy that when we finish building with oil, we will now started looking for other things,” he said.
The former Governor of Rivers, Mr Celestine Omehia, said it was important to ensure that citizens are gainfully employed for them to be able to pay tax.
“We are looking at tax, what about the revenue, what are the people going to do to get this money, you want people to pay tax but what are they going to do to raise this money, that is the issue.
“ We have been told about paying tax and people will definitely pay tax but the government should also be upstanding in making people get this money before we talk about paying the tax.
“ So while we look for tax we should also look for a source of empowering people for revenue and then you tax the revenue,” he said.
On the issue of borrowing to fund the budget, he said every government survives on different means, either by borrowing or through Internal Generated Revenue.
“ Human beings need to work and in the process of work pay the tax, a lot are unemployed so there are things obstructing people from paying tax.
“ So if there are no revenues, there will be no tax and the Federal Government will end up borrowing”, Omehia said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the book which is a compendium of tax laws, practices and administration, will serve as reference point for tax payers, administrators, practitioners and the academia. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Julius Toba-Jegede