Some financial and economic experts have called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service to be more transparent in the area of tax revenue generation and tax management.
The experts spoke at a workshop on Saturday on the theme “Improving Internally Generated Revenue through Trust, Accountability and Engaged Citizenship”.
Speaking at the event, Professor Kenneth Amaeshi of the European University Institute/University of Edinburgh said there was a need to increase the transparency and accountability of government revenue-generating agencies.
He said: “There is a tax paradox, compliance cannot be used without accountability, pay your tax before you find out how it is used. One person differs and says why should I pay for something that is not used or accounted for. Some people see it as an economic duty while others see it as an economic right.
“Amazingly, there is nothing on our tax form that holds the government to account for how the tax is used.
“The FIRS said their duty is to raise enough taxes, but once they raise those taxes and you hold them to account, all they will say is our duty is the tax collection, revenue collection, they have nothing to do with being accountable for how the money is used.”
He urged the government to put in place mechanisms that would help strengthen its agencies.
Amaeshi said, “Responsibility is the function of being accountable, but our institutions have somehow been unable to hold us to account, our institutions are unable to compel us or prevent us from doing dangerous things.
“Our institutions are weak, if our institution is weak, then everything remains in the puzzle, if the institutions are not trustworthy, then the question is how much can you win if the institutions are not trustworthy trusted or responsible.
“If we want to strengthen the power of the RGI, we must protect at all times, by building our institutions, by strengthening our institutions so that they function at all times.”
Mr Lawson George, a financial expert who spoke at the event, said voluntary tax compliance would be higher if tax revenues were used in a way that would benefit the people.
“We have articulated the Nigerian case and concluded that Nigeria is weak. I pay my taxes for the government to use as a source of income for the development of society.
“Why should I pay my tax when private individuals build boreholes, a good road to their house and buy a generator which is the only duty of the government.
“I pay my tax because it is my civic responsibility which is based on the morality of an individual,” he added.
Other experts who spoke at the events highlighted the need to address trust issues related to the payment of taxes.