- Background of the Study
A country seeking to improve its revenue generation would opt for a concept enabling it to best realize its objectives with due regards to its peculiar socio-economic make up (Olaoye, 2009). Okaura, (2012) stated that government need money. Modern government needs lots of money. How they get and whom they take it from are the two of the most difficult political issues faced in any modern political economy.One of the ways of getting this money is by taxation. There are quite a number of definitions of tax or taxation depending on the qualities it possesses. In that vein, taxation is the process or machinery by which communities or group of persons are made to contribute in some agreed quantum and method for the purpose of the administration and development of the society (Igbonyi, 2008). It is also defined as a means by which, a Government appropriate part of the private sector’s income (Olaoye, 2012). Tabansi (2001) defines Taxation as a levy imposed by the Government against the income, profit or wealth of the individual, partnership and corporation. Reid (2003) defines taxation as the process whereby charges are imposed on individuals or property by the legislative branch of the federal government and by many state governments to raise funds for public purposes. While The National Tax Policy defines tax as a financial charge or levy imposed upon an individual or legal entity by a state or a legal entity of the state; it is a pecuniary burden laid upon individual or property to support government expenditure (Okauru, 2012). The accumulated revenue is used in meeting recurrent expenditure. Tax occupies a unique position, because it is an important part of government policies. The ability of a government to generate revenue from this sector affects services offered by such a government. A means of improving internally generated revenue is through Value Added Tax (Olaoye, 2009).
Tax system in Nigeria has therefore undergone several reforms geared at enhancing tax collection and administration with minimal enforcement cost. The recent reforms include the introduction of unique Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN) which became effective since February 2000, Automated Tax system that facilitates tracking of tax positions and issues by individual tax payer, E-payment system which enhances smooth payment procedure and reduces the incidence of tax touts, enforcement scheme (Special Purpose Tax officers), this is a special tax officers scheme in collaboration with other security agencies to ensure strict compliance in payment of taxes. The integrated tax offices and authority now have autonomy to assess, collect and record tax (Asuquo, 2012). This enabling environment which came into being on the basis of (Section 8(q) of Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) Establishment (Act 2007) has led to an improvement in the tax administration in the country (Asuquo, 2012).
Further still, the Nigerian Tax System has undergone significant changes in recent times. The Tax Laws are consistently being reviewed with the aim of repealing obsolete provisions and simplifying the main ones. Under current Nigerian law, taxation is enforced by the 3 tiers of Government, that is Federal, State, and Local Government with each having its sphere clearly spelt out in the Taxes and Levies (See approved list for collection on pages 27) Decree, 1998 (Owolabi and Okwu, 2011; Is-haq, 2010 and Asuquo, 2012).
Despite this improvement, there are still a number of contentious issues that require urgent attention and among them is the issue of appropriate tax authority to administer several taxes. The recent crisis between Lagos State and Federal Government on the tax jurisdiction of VAT in the state is still a contentious issue in the court. Other states like Ogun, Oyo and Benue have joined Lagos state, while states like Abia and others have gone against this.
Each country has different reasons for adopting Value Added Tax (VAT) but the principal motive is the same: a properly designed VAT system raises more revenue with less administrative and economiccost than any other more broadly based tax. The Value Added Tax (VAT) was introduced in Nigeria in 1993 by the then Military administration which implementation commenced in 1994. Before then, Sales tax was under the jurisdiction of the States and generally poorly administered with marginal contribution in terms of revenue (Abiola, 2011). The idea of introducing VAT was recommended by the Study Group set up by the Federal Government in 1991 to review the tax system of the Federation as a replacement of Sales Tax. After extensive deliberation and consultation, VAT was introduced on 24th August 1993 as a federal tax by the Value Added Tax Decree.
Nevertheless, VAT has become a major source of revenue in many developing countries.
In sub- Saharan Africa. For example, VAT has been introduced in Benin Republic, Cote d’Ivore, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Niger Republic, Senegal, Togo and Nigeria (Owolabi and Okwu, 2011).