A government report commissioned by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Joint Tax Board has found that only 40 super-rich Nigerians pay correct tax on their income.
“With the assistance of international asset tracing professionals, the government has already identified that the number of potential tax defaulters is significant.”
A very reliable source in government told Punch during the week that the report was prepared from tax data collected from the 36 states of the federation and Abuja.
The source, a senior public servant, said the findings of the FIRS would influence the fashioning of a new tax amnesty programme to be launched by the Federal Government later this year. Additional findings also revealed that government would soon go after super-rich tax defaulters whose lavish lifestyles do not correlate with the small taxes that they pay annually.
A senior government official told Punch during the week that “in the process of tracing stolen funds, it has become apparent that a significant number of Nigerians have assets and fund lifestyles that are not consistent with their income as declared on their tax returns.
The tax report entitled, ‘List of individual taxpayers that paid N10m and above in 2016’, was prepared on January 24, 2017. The document was commissioned to examine the tax compliance of Nigerians who are “High Net-Worth Individuals (HNIs).”
For the purpose of the exercise, HNIs were defined as Nigerians who must have paid direct assessment tax of at least N10m in 2016 and, thus, were assumed to have made at least N40m and above in income in the same year.
The source said the main implication of the report was that most of the country’s rich and super-rich do not pay correct tax.
“Of course, there are more than 40 people who earn more than N40m in Nigeria in 2016. The rich are not paying. It is the reason tax is just six pe cent of our GDP,” the source said.
“Most HNIs are playing games with the system. They pay tax only on their salaries, which is just a fraction of their income and hide the rest. Where are all the big names that make hundreds of millions and billions every year?” the source asked.