Improving the process of tax collection would mean very little if citizens have no faith in the system
As a country that seeks to achieve middle-income status within the next few years, a narrow tax base would realistically hamper our growth trajectory, if not derail us completely -- as, according to statistics from the National Board of Revenue, only 1% of our total population pays tax.
Which is why it is good to know that the NBR is working actively to widen our tax base -- to at least 10 million people within the next two years, according to the organization.
Of course, widening the tax base has historically been a tough task for our government, current or previous, and it is hard to imagine such ambitious numbers being achieved overnight.
For the NBR to be able to carry out its tax-collection drives with any semblance of efficacy, the organization needs to be empowered with the resources and authority it requires. Not to mention the process of paying one’s taxes, as it stands, is woefully nebulous and bureaucratic, forcing potential tax-payers to go through several unnecessary hoops.
However, improving the exact process of tax collection would mean very little if citizens themselves have no faith in the system.
A lot of the apprehension surrounding taxes can be chalked up to the unchecked corruption that plagues our administration, especially at the lower levels. What reason does the average citizen have to pay their taxes if they believe that their hard-earned money will be pocketed by unscrupulous government agents?
The administration needs to address this issue head-on, and allay the public fear of paying taxes.
A wide tax base is the foundation upon which any successful economy is built upon, and while it is good to know that the NBR is taking initiative to improve our narrow tax base, it needs to do so with transparency and integrity.