Tax reliefs deprive FG of N5.16tn in 12 months


The Federal Government lost about N5.16tn to tax reliefs granted on Value Added Tax, Company Income Tax and Petroleum Profit Tax in 2020.

This figure was arrived at after analysing data from the 2022-2024 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Policy Strategy report.

The report said Nigeria lost N4.3tn to reliefs on VAT, comprising primarily of reliefs granted by legislature and compliance burden.

The report said if all commodities in the Nigerian VAT system were fully taxable, the country would generate about N6tn from the existing tax structure.

The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics had recently said VAT yielded only about N1.8tn in 2020, resulting in a tax gap of about N4.3tn.

According to the MTEF/FSP report, out of the N4.3tn tax gap, about N900bn is attributable to exemptions laid down in legislation, while the remaining N3.4tn is attributable to the compliance gap.

It said, “In most countries, there compliance gap is caused by several factors, including underground economic activity in the informal sector, aggressive tax planning and problems in tax administration.

“However, in Nigeria, some firms, notably in the financial sector, are granted relief from VAT. Because this relief is not set out in the VAT Act it is not captured as a tax expenditure in the current estimates.”

The report said as a result of this, the current estimated loss due to policy gap might be too low and the compliance gap too high.

It said the country lost N457bn to CIT waivers from large tax offices and medium tax offices, compared to the N1.1tn in 2019, representing a decrease of N634bn.

 A breakdown of the N457bn CIT waivers shows that “manufacturing accounted for 65 per cent of tax expenditure (N297bn), LTO financials contributed to 15.8 per cent of TEs (N72bn) while N440m was from exemption of profits under Section 23 of CIT Act”.

According to the report, Nigeria compares poorly to regional peers and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development benchmark with regards to CIT collection efficiency.

On petroleum profit tax, the report said the sum of N307bn was lost due to waivers granted by the Federal Government within the period under review.

It emphasised that the losses from PPT waivers might have been higher, as only a partial computation was carried out due to limited availability of data.

The Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Muhammad Nami, recently put the number of taxpayers in the country at 41 million.

He lamented that despite having 41 million taxpayers in the country, compared to South Africa’s four million taxpayers, Nigeria earned far lower than what South Africa generated from Personal Income Tax.

The FIRS boss 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 N1tn by 40 million people.

If you also compare that with South Africa where they have a total population of about 60 million people, with just four million taxpayers, the total personal income tax paid in South Africa last year is about N13tn. 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 less than N400bn.”(Punch)

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