The Federal Executive Council, the highest Executive decision making organ in Nigeria, early this month approved a new National Tax Policy for the country. The Policy will now be endorsed by the National Economic Council to recognize the Federal System of Government given the application of the Policy to all tiers of government.
The National Tax Policy (NTP) establishes fundamental principles to guide an orderly development of the Nigeria tax system and reinforces the need for tax laws and administrative practices to promote economic development.
When fully implemented, the Policy should address key challenges confronting the Nigeria tax system including:
- low tax to GDP ratio
- fragmented database of taxpayers and weak structure for exchange of information
- multiplicity of taxes and revenue agencies
- poor accountability for tax revenue
- use of aggressive and unorthodox methods for tax collection
- failure by tax authorities to honour refund obligations to taxpayers
- the non-regular review of tax legislation, which has led to obsolete laws, that do not reflect
- current economic realities
Some of the key recommendations include to address the challenges include:
- ensuring that there is only one revenue agency per level of government
- establishment of a tax court as an independent body to adjudicate in tax matters
- lower tax rate and VAT compliance threshold for SMEs
- establishment of an Office of Tax Simplification for continuous improvement to tax legislation and administration and develop Key Performance Indices for Nigeria to attain a top 50 position on the global index of ease of paying taxes by 2020 and consistently improve on the ranking
- administrative framework for amnesty and whistle blowing as part of the strategies for curbing evasion and widening the tax net
- INEC to mandate political parties to articulate, prepare, provide and make public their tax agenda before and during election campaigns
The approved Policy also contains and appendix of changes required to existing laws, repeals and new enactments.