Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has advocated for a progressive taxation system capable of bringing a large percentage of tax evaders into the tax net.
Okowa made the call on Thursday in his remarks at the 2021 Maris Public Lecture organised by the Maris Trust Council in the Unity Hall, Government House, Asaba.
The lecture, with the theme “Effective Tax Administration for the Delivery of Democratic Dividends,” was attended by professionals from relevant fields.
The governor, who was represented by the State Commissioner for Trade and Investment, Mr. Chika Ossai, said: “The theme of the lecture is quite timely and appropriate as it will serve to draw attention to the critical role of effective tax administration in the entire revenue generation, availability of resources and how they can be generated.
“A good tax administration system itself serves as a means towards the redistribution of wealth as does the social spending on programmes designed to overcome poverty and inequality.
“The tax regime should not overburden the very poor citizens who are trying to eke out daily living. The system should identify the affluent group who more often than not are unwilling or reluctant to pay taxes.
“To expand the revenue base, this class of citizens should be identified and incorporated through reform strategies to ensure increased internally generated revenue. However, in doing so, a conscious effort should be made to not to overcharge.
“I sincerely encourage companies, individuals and relevant organisations to pay taxes promptly because government needs money to perform civil obligations and running of the state.”
Okowa noted that government needed additional revenue to finance numerous programmes and projects like infrastructure, roads, water, electricity, education and health.
Okowa’s call came on the heels of the Delta State Internal Revenue Service (DIRS) announcement that it would target at least N10 billion as fallouts from the whistle-blowing mechanism it adopted in its tax drive for more revenue.
The Chairman of the Board of the DIRS, Mr. Monday Onyeme, who was also the guest lecturer at the event, disclosed that the tax agency has raked in N1.8 billion since July 2020 through whistleblowing alone.
Onyeme lamented that only about 10 percent of Nigerians pay taxes to government at any level, stressing that all Nigerians in specified category were duty-bound to pay tax.
“Our leaders have a lot to do to ensure the full delivery of democratic dividends but this can only be possible when everyone contributes to financing the activities of government through voluntary tax compliance, which is backed by the Nigerian Constitution.
“Effective tax administration is key to the delivery of democratic dividends,” Onyeme said, noting that the state tax body witnessed a significant turnaround at the inception of the Okowa administration in 2015.