The issue of tax evasion seems to be the same in other parts of Africa as it is in Nigeria.
Many African citizens especially in Nigeria and Ghana, for too long live with the premonition that whatever they pay as tax are not truly used for the betterment of their lots, rather government officials corner them away for their selfish use. This singular feeling had been responsible for rising incidences of tax evasion.
Since recently, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun had been championing reforms that will persuade citizens both people and corporate to change their attitude in paying taxes.
The government even went the extra mile of introducing VAIDS, designed to allow habitual evaders to just voluntarily declare and pay whatever they felt and therefrom, begin to do the right thing going forward.
The given window is expected to expire within few months. Sources at Federal Inland revenue Service (FIRS) say compliance is growing daily even as the Ministry had last week, sent out letters to about 500 Nigerians who had offshore properties and investments to begin tax payment.
But beyond all efforts to get Nigerians begin to pay taxes as and when due, the ill feeling that tax monies are not well used for development projects continue to reverberate in peoples’ mind daily.
In Ghana recently, Ms. Gifty Agyeiwaa Badu, the head of Ningo Prampram District Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) said citizens should not see corruption on the part of leaders as an excuse for not paying taxes.
Badu further noted that the Ghanaian sense of patriotism was dying because of the perception that taxes were embezzled by leaders.
“That is why we are telling them that this time around when taxes are collected, it will not go into individual pockets; this time around the taxes received will be used for the purpose for which it was collected,” she said.
“Government wants to increase taxation and before that could be achieved, we have to educate the public to understand why they should pay tax and what the taxes are used for. Is their civic duty to pay taxes irrespective of public perception about corruption,” she said.
Badu made the passionate appeal recently during the second anniversary of the Peace and Love Ladies Club at Dawenya during which the NCCE educated members of the women’s group on the need to pay tax.
She observed that the exercise was a collaboration between the NCCE and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to undertake community outreach and engagement programmes with economic and other identifiable groups on Tax Compliance issues.
According to her, the drive forms part of a nationwide campaign dubbed: ‘Our Taxes-Our Future’, with activities that were implemented in the months of November and December.
She said as part of the exercise, NCCE would visit faith based organizations, artisan associations, women groups, among others to educate them about the need to pay tax before law enforcement agencies visited them.