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PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF PERSONAL INCOME TAX IN NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF OWERRI WEST LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, IMO STATE)
This Paper examines the problems associated with the Assessment and Administration of Personal Income Tax on Motorcycle riders in (UMUGUMA)Owerri West LGA Metropolis. The study uses Primary data involving face-to-face interviews and observations, while descriptive survey was used to analyze the data. The paper utilizes the stratified random sampling technique in selecting 28 units out of the 294 units in the Metropolis. One hundred and fifty (150) Umuguma were randomly selected, observed and interviewed using the interview and uncontrolled/unstructured observation method. The main findings of the research are that, tax officials lack adequate training and experience in carrying out their assignment. Similarly, shortage of staff, payment default on Direct Assessment Tax System (DATS), insufficient financial resources available to the tax authority and lack of Political will on the part of Government in enforcing the tax laws were also found to affect the revenue generation drive of the State. The paper also finds that Motor cycle (Umuguma) riders do not pay any form of tax or levy to the State Government, but have very high expectations from it, in the provision of infrastructural facilities like Roads, Bridges, Hospitals, Motor cycle Loans etc. The paper recommends that the State Government in conjunction with the tax authority should embark on proper recruitment, training and development of staff, provide good remuneration packages to tax officials, provision of adequate working facilities, and embark on massive enlightenment of the taxpayers on the importance of tax payment. This, it is believed, will enhance the revenue generation of the State, by bringing in hitherto none tax payers into the tax-paying circle. Finally, the paper strongly recommends a form of Personal Income Tax on Motor cycle (Umuguma) riders, as it is a promising Industry that could assist the State in terms of revenue generation.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Tax is an important factor in economic planning and development of a nation and it is an important agent of social change, (Ola 1985:109). Tax according to Agysi (1983:174) the transfer of resources from private sector to the public sector in order to accomplish some of the nation’s economic and social goals. Furthermore, tax is a compulsory levy imposed on the payer by a legal authority or recipient public authority. Throughout the history of mankind, the right to raise tax has been one of the principal features of political authority. Tax is an instrument of fiscal policy, which plays a leading role in every organized society irrespective of the political or constitutional structure. Once a society becomes stabilized, civilized or law abiding the function of government becomes enormous resulting in heavy expenditure and necessitating tax payment by its subjects. For a developing country like Nigeria, the primary economic goal is to increase the rate of economic growth and hence the per capital income which will lead to higher standard of living Three main method of financing economic expenditure in most developing economics include taxes and other current receipts such as the profit of public enterprises, loans and grants. Of these sources, tax is perhaps the most important since the level of government expenditure is to a great extent dependent on the ability of the tax system to place the required revenue at the disposal of government. Hence, Samuelson (1980:92) wrote that “in deciding to tax people, the people are really deciding how resources needed for social wants shall be taken from all various families and from the enterprises they own and made available for the provision of social goals and services”. Again since market system proves inadequate for ensuring stable price and steady growth, tax has to be used to bring about employment, stable price and steady growth. In addition, tax is meant to ensure, at times, a transfer of resources from the hand of the private to public or government for investment, modification of patterns of investment and mitigating economic inequalities. Allas, these aims are far from being achieved in Nigerian society. The tax system is failing in almost all the above respect. Therefore, there must be crucial problems militating against efficient and effective tax administration in Nigeria. There have been discussions on the problems posed by the dwindling fortune in the oil economy. This problem is acute because of the undue reliance on federal government for the bulk of the operating revenue in the state. All the states of the federation are now required to intensify effort toward the internally generated revenue to make up allocation from the federation account. Unfortunately the problem engendered in the internally generated revenue is more acute in newly created states. Before being carved out, these states were doing fairly well with what they collected within their confines. In Imo State, the problem of inefficient tax collection is highly pronounced. Due to lack of fund the state been unable to fulfill its obligations to the citizenry. The present emphasis on rural development has subdued the state with the problems of socio-economic development of the rural communities. Beside political duties, it is expected to provide good roads, health services, primary and secondary education, good environmental sanitation among others, to her people. As a result of the government inability to meet with its obligations the people have resorted to self help projects in most communities. Observation has shown that the number of self help projects in most communities outnumbers the government projects therein. These failures are attributed to the numerous problems militating against efficient tax collection in the state as shown by this project. Inspite of the broad nature of taxes, the tax payers are usually on the look out for loopholes which they could exploit and less tax to the government. Besides the corrupt tax officials, evidence abound that there is high incidence of tax avoidance (refusing to pay tax entirely) and evasion (act by which the amount of tax payable is dishonestly reduced) in Imo State. As a result of the role and importance of tax as an instrument of fiscal policy, the vital sources of government revenue, taxation becomes an important area of study. But because of the failure of taxation to effectively collate resources, secure equitable income distribution and properly regulate the econo-colateral function of a good tax system and above all provide the government with the much needed revenue to meet its various obligations, it is strongly convinced that there must be some crucial problems militating against effective and efficient tax administration in Imo State and Nigeria as a whole. Hence a study of problems of tax administration and collection with particular reference to Imo State is hereby being undertaken to x-ray with a view of finding these problems, their degree of impediment, the likely prospect and proffering recommendations of actions that will ensure effective and efficient tax administration and collection mechanism in Imo State in particular and Nigeria in general.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There has been a heart provoking outcry by various state governments in Nigeria over their poor financial base. The situation is becoming even more compounded by the obvious dwindling feature of our oil economy. Moreover, inspite of the broadness and the comprehensive nature of our tax system, tax avoidance and evasion are on the increase. This ugly development has placed most state government in a situation where they cannot cope with their civic responsibilities to their citizen, hence a compelling need to put an end to this unwholesome circumstances through proper problem identification;
(1) It has been a problem to understand the extent to which resources, human / material are adequate for the management of Imo State Board of Internal Revenue. (ISBIR).
(2) The extent to which the objectives of the organizations are being achieved.
(3) Also, it is a problem to determine the relationship between the ignorance of tax benefits and the unwillingness of tax payers to pay their taxes and so fulfill their civic obligation.
(4) It is difficult to ascertain the extent to which ISBIR has realized its targets on priority areas of personal income tax administration.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTION / HYPOTHESIS
Below are research questions to which the study would be based.
(1) To what extent is the resources (human / material) adequate for the management of ISBIR (Imo State board of internal revenue)?
(2) To what extent have the objectives of the organization been achieved in recent past?
(3) What is the relationship between the ignorance of tax benefits and the unwillingness of tax payers to fulfill their tax obligation?
(4) To what extent has the board realized its targets on priority areas of personal income tax administration.
There will be no significant difference at 0.05 between the perception of senior and junior staff with regard to assure adequacy There is no significant relationship between proper staff training scheme and objective assessment and collection of personal Income tax. There is no significant relationship between adequate public enlightenment campaign on tax policies and tax payer’s benefit or knowledge on tax benefit There is no significant difference at 0.05 between the perception of junior and senior staff regarding the attainment of target in priority areas of tax revenue administration.
1.5 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
(1) To ascertain the extent to which the resources (human / material) are adequate for the management of the organization (ISBIR).
(2) To find out the extent to which the objectives of the organization (ISBIR) are being achieved in recent years.
(3) To determine the relationship between Ignorance of tax benefits and the unwillingness of tax payers to fulfill their tax obligation.
(4) To evaluate the ethical validity and the basis of personal Income tax assessment and collection in Imo State
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY.
This research work is being undertaken to identify the problems hindering personal income tax administration and collection in Imo State. It is my hope that this study will help to correct the deficiency in the personal income tax generation machinery in Imo State. Again, there is practically no detailed study devoted to the problems of personal income tax collection in recent years. Therefore, the study will adequately fill up the gap. Thus, a research work that focuses on this topic is timely and very necessary in providing lasting solution to the incessant and unhealthy problem of waste of revenue through ineffective personal income tax administration and collection in Imo State.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY.
The topic of this thesis is “The problems of personal Income Tax Administration and collection in Nigeria with particular reference to Imo State Board of Internal Revenue”. The main objectives of the study are
• To find out the extent to which the resources of the organization are adequate for its management
• To ascertain the extent to which the objectives of the organization are being achieved.
• To determine the relationship between Ignorance of tax payers and the unwillingness to fulfil their tax obligation Finally, to evaluate the ethical validity and basis of assessment of collection of personal Income tax in Imo State.