The Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC), Muhammad Shehu, has disclosed that less than 40 million Nigerians are presently captured in the tax net and paying taxes.
Nigeria has a population of over 200 million, meaning that over 160 million do not pay tax.
“That is too low for a country that has more than 200 million people,” he said.
Shehu, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday, also clarified that political office holders in Nigeria did not earn outrageous emoluments, as speculated by Nigerians.
The RMAFC boss also hinted that the commission developed software to enhance transparency in revenue generation and sharing amongst the three tiers of government.
He commended the idea of a Tax Reform Committee recently set up by President Bola Tinubu.
He said that the committee would do a lot to include economic players from the informal sector in the tax net.
“There is all this debate about the informal economy. What this tax reform committee will do is bring a lot of agencies together, including RMAFC. We are members of that committee. We have articulated our position, and we will communicate what we believe can add value to the discussion.
“At the end of it all, we will have a better society where more people are paying taxes and the money will be utilized for better services and infrastructure so that every Nigerian can benefit,” he said.
He urged the Federal Inland Revenue Service to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service to identify certain categories of Nigerians who evade taxes.
“There are some taxes that the government is not getting from Nigerians. I believe the FIRS will look at all those things and then collaborate with the NCS for better efficiency.
“I think it is very important for every Nigerian to try and pay their taxes because it is from those monies that you get services.
“All the things that people like to tell you about clean environments, good roads, and functional infrastructure in other countries—it is the taxes that citizens pay that are utilized for those services.
“People should learn to pay their electricity bills; they should pay their water bills; they should pay just like you pay for telephone recharge cards.
“The more you pay your taxes, the more money the government has to put into road and rail construction, better hospitals, pensions, social security, and a better plan to help the needy,” he said.
While reacting to Nigerians’ recent condemnation of reports on a proposed 114 percent increase in salaries of political office holders by the commission, amid what they described as biting economic hardships in the country.
Shehu described information about the salary increase as not true.
He, however, said that it was the constitutional responsibility of RMAFC to determine and review the salaries of executive, legislative, and judicial officers.
He said that their salaries were last reviewed in 2007.
“From 2008 to date, there has not been a single review,” he said.
He said that the commission would not contemplate the speculated increase now, considering the prevailing economic challenges faced by Nigerians.
“We are Nigerians; we are not going to start talking about reviewing the salaries of political officeholders now because of the challenges that the government is facing.
“We will do it when the climate is right, and then we will take it forward to the stakeholders for them to decide on what to do. I want to disabuse the minds of Nigerians. It is not true that people are getting jumbo salaries.
“The monthly salary of Mr. President is less than N1.5 million; that of a minister is not even up to N1 million,” Shehu added.
The chairman said that what people considered outrageous earnings by lawmakers were statutory office running costs, which should ordinarily be managed centrally by the National Assembly Service Commission.