Taxation in Nigeria – Government Revenue through Internal Revenue


The Nigeria tax system had its share in terms of being adequately mobilized for increased revenue and fiscal actions. The State tax revenue is no exemption or Exception to the fact that the revenue generating ability is grossly inadequate to meet up its government functions.
Taxation which is seen as compulsory payment made by the citizens of an entity (country) to the government is mis-constructed in terms, of what the government tax Agencies actually realizes from it.   The term “Taxation” as a source of Government revenue with special reference on the states tax revenue sources, is seen in this study as a lopsided mobilization effort in some states, used as a case study. The research carried out, using the ratio analysis and the difference equation evidently pointed out the fact that some states likes Lagos, Anambra etc. is able to mobilized. A sizeable pool of revenue with recourse to depending on the federal government.
Thus, it is suffix to say here that while some states are reaping a large share of revenue from tax some others are not able to able to meet up the challenges of tax collection either due to poor tax administration, lack of proper orientation to the indigenes on tax payments or inadequate commercial and industrial development in the states affected.
This study is enhanced because of the need to reappraise the tax system of each state, enlighten the supposed tax payers, and give concessions. When aftermath of taxation, proceed of the aftermath of taxation into feasible developmental use and Re-Organize the tax Administration system of the states, to foster a move efficient and effective tax mobilization efforts of states.
Taxation can simply be seen as a compulsory transfer or payment (or occasionally of goods and service) from private individuals, Institutions or groups to the government, Anyanwu, (1998). It is a burden which every citizen must bear to sustain his or her government.
Another perspective of the definition has it that, taxation is the compulsory payment levied by the government on its citizens to generate revenue and control economic activities; hence it is backed by law. Taxation has not only influenced the economy, it has also become an important instrument of economic policy.

Thus its importance lies primarily in  its ability to raise capital formation of the public sector for the development and growth of the economy. Its regulatory roles of consumption and hence of stabilization as well as of income redistribution are accordingly derivatives of the primary to provide service for the community, whether to the individuals families or the wider community. Additional to their service role, however, most public service organizations under the State Government can that including seeking a profit or contribution on that trade, and or they can make charge for some or all of their services. But since profit is not the main essence of these (corporations) establishments, taxation happens to be one of the avenue through which these corporations make up for administration expenses and revenue.

The government has certain functions to perform for the  benefits of those, it governs. The scope of these functions will depend, among other things, on the particular and economic orientation of the members of a particular society at a given point in time, Their needs and aspirations and their willingness and ability to pay tax. As the functions of the government increase, the revenue of financing those functions must necessarily increase.

Nigeria operates a federal system of government which allows the division of powers among different (3) tiers of government which includes the federal, State and Local Government.

In all the ability to differentiate or divide the taxing power of these tiers seems simple enough when it comes to the terms of starting the various types of taxes that are available within this various tiers.  But for the course of this study the various types of taxes levies collected by the State Government includes:

Like in other countries, all fiscal plans of action in Nigeria Operate within a defined theoretical and regulatory frame work of fiscal federalism.
An attempt is made in this study to investigate the state tax revenue functions in the Nigeria economy with a view to assessing the internally generated revenue of some State with their average performance in form of their collected revenue. It also studies the adequacies of revenue mobilization effort of the State Government and the implication for dynamic fiscal policy.

This study aims to investigate how well the state government in Nigeria has performed in terms of mobilizing sizeable pool of revenue from legitimate sources for development.
Specifically, the study will look into tax administration and the structure of the Nigeria tax system.
Lastly, a brief analysis shall be done by the researcher to look into the various components of the state tax system as an avenue for mobilizing revenue.

Comparison of different State Government revenue generating ability will and the researcher to know how well the government is able to raise revenue on its own apart from its statutory allocation and how it can develop its revenue mobilization in terms of increasing its revenue from taxation.

This study aims at covering the state government’s taxes in terms of mobilization and collection, so also is the spectrum of the various types of taxes collected:
Thus the period under consideration for study will be 1992 to 2002, with all figures in million of Naira.
Information necessary to account for increased revenue has been difficult to obtain, due to a number of tax changes that took place within the period of study. Thus on examination of the ratio of internally generated revenue to statutory revenue allocation as used by Nyongs (1998) will  be carried out by the researcher.


Taxing Power: The power within a tier of government in impose a tax by its own law and prescribe conditions for the collection and due administration of the tax either by its own agency or that of another tier of government.

Tax:    A burden which every citizen must been to sustain his or her government.

Tax Rate:    This is the amount of tax which is levied per unit of base.

Tax Policy:    Policies that aims at amending the tax rate so as to suit economic fiscal policy measures.

Tax Incidence: This is where the burden of tax falls or who bears the burden  of tax.

Tax Base:    It is the object that and it could be the value of the income.

Taxable Capacity: It is the connected with the amount of tax which could be jointly or fairly imposed on the individual.

Tax Compliance:    The obedience of a tax payer totally under the law. This obedience can be induced, voluntary or compelled.

The introduction of taxation in Nigeria was dictated by the financial needs of the colonial Administration. Custom duties were first introduced in the South.
Direct taxation or some form of income tax was shunned initially because ‘all semblance of direct taxation or any systems which would press immediately  upon the natives were regarded as injudicious in the present unsettled state of settlement, and as liable to cause friction in the transaction of English Rule” The Northern territory was a convenient place to experiment the system of direct taxation because the people of the area were used to payment of tax under the Fulani administration and also because the Muslim religion adhered to by the people approved of taxation as being consistent with the tenets of Islam.

More importantly, the Northern was under great financial strain as there was no sea coast and imported goods have to be transported form South to the North. Any imposition of indirect tax on goods would be ruinous to the trade of the territory.  It was therefore not feasible to secure revenue by way of custom duties as it was in the South, thus the only alternative opened to be government of the Northern territory was to impose some form of direct taxation which has very good chance of success.
Accordingly, the direct taxation was introduced in the area in 1904, being a complete success. There were no incentives introduce the tax in the Southern Nigeria had more than enough revenue from custom duties. It was partly because of financial problem of the North that the South and the North were amalgamated in 1914.

As the result of the amalgamation the revenue accruing to the South from custom duties prior to amalgamation accrued to the whole country after amalgamation.
Direct taxation was introduced in the Western territory in the Western territory in 1916, the system of indirect rule through the establishment native administration ensured the success of the tax and tax measure in the area. Direct taxation was introduced in the East in 1972, of which a major tax riot ensured in 1929 known as the popular Aba women Riot.
This riot was precipitated by the attempt of the colonial authorities to assess the wealth of male individuals in the area for income tax purpose.
Various income tax enactments governing the taxation of the native were incorporated in the direct Taxation ordinance, No 29 of 1940, Cap 54. The income tax ordinance No 29 of 1943, government the assessment of the income of Non-Africans resident outside Lagos as well as Africans and Non African resident in Lagos.
In 1953, the political and constitutional processes lending to independence has commenced where revenue allocation arrangement under a federal constitution was important in minds of the Nigeria leaders present at the conference.
Accordingly, a sole commissioner in the person of Sir Louise Chick was appointed by the conference to recommend a system of revenue allocation consistent with the principle of derivation under a federal constitution.
It was recommended that: each region of the federation should have power to fix the rate of tax under the direct tax ordinance, collect the tax and share the proceeds with the local government under its jurisdiction, the fixing of the rate (personal income tax) by the federation government the fixing of the companies income tax.
The 1957 constitution headed by Reisman has its recommendation that the federal government should continue to have jurisdiction over companies income tax. As a result of these recommendations, section 60 of the constitution of 1960 and section 74 of the constitution of 1963 provided as follows.

a.    Income tax management Act (ITMA), and
b.    Companies income tax Act (CITA).

These acts consolidated the provisions of the previous ordinances and their amendments. The period 1961-1965 witnessed the introduction throughout Nigeria of the basic principles of taxing incomes of person other than limited liability companies. The provisions of ITMA and CITA of 1961 were put into practice. The main provisions of the Act were:
ITMA 1961
–  The basis of computing income of individual, family’s estates and trusts.
– Computation of capital allowances for fixed assets.
– Incomes exempted from tax
– Administration of the act including relevant tax authorities.
CITA 1961
– The administration of the company’s income tax including relevant tax authorities, assessments, payment procedure and objection and appeals against assessment.
– The income(s) those are liable to companies’ income tax.
– The treatment of business losses.
– Double taxation management

The period of oil emergence (1966-1975) witnessed the same tax laws of 1960, although amendment were made to reflect government policies tax acts were passed during this period to maximize revenue  from the available as made available by, NISER (1985). The  tax laws include: Income tax (Amendment) Act, 1966, the capital Grains tax Act, 1967: Income tax management (Amendment) Act 1968; income tax (1969); Companies income tax (Amendment), Act (1990); (Lagos) Amendment Edit and so on-it was also during this period that the various regional and state tax laws on individuals in the country emerged.
This is contained in the provisions of the income tax management (uniform taxation provisions) Acts 1975. Since 1979 till date, there has been amendments of old tax laws and enactments  of new tax law in the country during this period the need for more revenue  through taxation coupled with the objectives of equity in taxation and stimulation of economic development in the country, led to the amendments and enactments of the following tax laws emerged: The petroleum profit tax (PAT) Act, 1977; companies income tax (Amendment), Act, 1977, PPT (Amendment) Act, 1979; Capital transfer tax Act, 1979.

A good tax system in order to achieve its various desired objective chooses and adheres to certain principles which becomes its characteristics.  Adam Smith (1776) was basically concerned with the way in which an economy could increase the productivity capacity and thereby achieve a higher rate of economic growth. He was of the opinion that private sectors were more efficient than the public sector and therefore, the primary responsible of economic growth should rest with the private sector. With this postulation in view, smith laid down those principles of taxation which were to satisfy the conditions. The cannons of taxation as prescribed by smith include the following:


This requires that those in equal circumstances should pay an equal amount of tax. It could be horizontal (same payment of income) or vertical different income with same tax payment). It is better seen in the administration of personal income tax.
The Nigeria tax system can hardly be said to satisfy the equity criteria as for example, the scope of personal income tax in Nigeria is extremely narrow in its implementation to the extent that aside from PAYE, other taxes are hardly paid. The effect of this is that the observed unfairness in the tax system merely encourages the tax payers on the fringe who are continuously considering whether or not it is profitable to comply with the provisions of the tax laws. It could further lead to shortage of amenities, which is not available in some locations.

This is obtained where a system avoids distribution in the market or does not discriminate between different activities in the economy. An example of a non-neutral tax in Nigeria is the value added tax. This is because it encourages the consumer to spend his money on another item rather than on a taxable one as seen by Ojo (1999).

Certainty requires that a tax payer should be in position to know with some measure of certainty what is expected from him. It follows that there should be certainty that tax would be enforced if not remitted since on easily evaded tax serves as a disincentive and will ultimately push the marginal tax payer to the side of an evader.
Certainly also presumes that the collecting agency would be in a position to correctly predict how much is collectible and hence the effects of taxation.

Every tax has a cost of collection. It is important that the cost of collection should be overwhelms the benefits expected. The productive effects which people suffer due to wasteful use of its resources on the salaries of the tax officials, when taxed are too widespread and difficult to administer. Realizing that the tax collections are being wasted, the tax payers are likely to evade tax payment.

According to J.C Anyanwu (1996), the issue to tax structure addresses the question of how taxes are or should be composed. Over the year various theoretical approaches to tax structure development have emerged one of which divides typical tax structures between and early and later period.
Arguably, the basic determinant of the tax structure at the early period of development is the availability of feasible “tax bases” that is, the item or object being taxed.
At the early stage of economic development Agriculture was predominant land taxes became important revenue sources at this period are selected exercise and the use of public enterprises (monopolies). The most effective tax handle for economics at this stage with a high foreign trade component is exports and imports.
At a later period of the economy’s development, tax authorities as observed by Akinwunmi (Cit, 1999), are offered great variety of tax hurdles or available basis of tax. The forms in which income is received or outlays are made is extra-ordinarily  complex in modern economy hence the problems of revenue collection tends to shift from the search for feasible tax basis to the devising of forms of tax yielding effective collected from the wide variety of tax based available.
Apart from the economic factor of available tax bases, there are also the political and social factors that cause changes in the tax structure. The historical evaluation approach in the theory of tax structure development according to Anyanwu (1996), says that the transitional stage beyond primitive economics but below the advanced ones, is the stages that fits most of the developing countries.
The empirical  approach in the issue of tax structure in developing  economies like Nigeria is that, which focuses on the relationship between separate taxes and three principal variables two relating to the stage of development of the economy (par capital income and index of magnetization) and the third relating to degree of openness (ratio of Net Export to GNP) Revenue collected from the company income tax depends on the openness of the economy and related to oil and mineral industries as a proportion to total export.

The maximization of revenue from all the tax structure is the primary objective of a tax system. This is the key role of tax administration in the economy. In this role, relationship between gross income, taxable income and tax liability is continuously determined and collected by the administrative machinery; the determination of tax base, tax rate and tax allowances constitutes a principal problem of tax authority.
Generally, however, the elements of tax structures are provided by the tax legislator of the country. The legislations from the components of the public policy of the nation. The following bodies see about the administration of taxes within the three tiers of government as highlighted by fagbule J.O (19080); the federal board of Inland Revenue; State board of internal revenue; Local Government Authorities. The essence of an efficient tax structure is to minimize the income effect of the tax without jeopardizing the objectives of the revenue maximization.
Many student of taxation also believe that in a developing economy, the development of the tax structure is showed in favour of import taxation and export taxation on primary products consequently, the tax structure relies largely on indirect tax, taxes from custom duties NISER (1998). Thus, the problem of tax structure administration is therefore to seek the optimal structure of tax which while providing maximum Revenue for government does not destroy the private incentive to increase savings and capital formation.
A given tax structure with an efficient tax administration would yield maximum Revenue, revenue with minimum cost. However, an increasing cost to structural change in the tax system would only lead to lower tax yield, Even when the structure is expanding, but also leading to increased loss of revenue. Thus to decrease cost depends o honest and devoted manpower for collection and assessment the technological available and the tax legislators.
When the voluntary administration is great, the easier would be tax administration and given the tax structure the greater would be revenue yield from the tax system.

According to Seyi Ojo (1999), the objectives and functions of a tax system have long been reduced to three tiers assertion was also share by Adbulraza, M.T (1993 Cit) explained below:

The raising of revenue to meet government expenditure is a key function of a good tax administration. In the absence of tax, the state government would find it difficult to carry out their functions while the ability of the Federal Government to meet its obligation to the states may be seriously impaired. Indeed it is sometimes suggested that without the largesse from the central government, it would be difficult for certain state of the federation to survive.
A review of the developments in Nigeria would show that the level of tax raised has helped in no small measure in meeting the expenditure.
Tax administration in Nigeria is mainly to raise revenue. Because the raising of revenue seems to be upper most in the minds of a typical tax administrator in Nigeria, they sometimes forget its impact on an investment in the economy and hence mortgage the chances of increasing the wealth of the nation in the long-run.

Wealth redistribution as an objective, according to Ojo, is based on two premises. The first being that taxation should basically rest on the ability to pay thus requiring that the greatest burden be borne by the rich.
The second posits that the prese3nt arrangement of wealth distributions is patently unjust, hence taxation should be a built – in redistribution functions. This arrangement has been refuted by milne Brace well (1974), as would be later in this study,  the reverse would appear to be the order in Nigeria since the rich who are supposed to represent the “Fattest back” shun the payment of tax and would tooth and nail to evade tax.
Some cynics have that the ability of the Rich to evade tax so easily of the largely due to the inability of the Nigerian tax authorities to deal with them and make a lesson out of them. The point is that Nigerian tax administration should not allow itself to be accused of being part of the problem but rather it should exercise that powers conferred on it to get this group of tax evaders to perform their duties.

In Nigeria, it would appear that greater emhais is placed on the monetary policies in the management of the economy as ascertained by the CBN (Monetary and Fiscal policy Guideline for 1993-1998). Fiscal policies have helped a great deal too in the management of the economy. Such fiscal policies that have found wide use include the reform since 1995 which were suppose to release more money in the hands of the household with bandwagon effect on the wealth of the nation.

The present dispensation in government allows the supremacy of the constitution in determining  how taxes will be divided amongst the  three tiers of government – the federal, State and Local Government.
Taxing power according to Abiola Sanni (2000) means the power of a tier of government to impose a tax by its own law and prescribe  conditions for the collection and due administration of tax either by its own agency or that of another tier of government. This must be distinguished from the power to merely collect taxes or levies which is executive or administrative in character.
There is no universal techniques for the division of taxing power in a federal system, however, a study of the Nigeria constitution gives the following techniques which has been adopted over the years irrespective of certain fiscal changes, these includes:
a)    The division of taxing power broadly follows the division of legislative powers. A tier of government, can then impose tax only in respect of the subject matter within its competence;
b)    The constitution may specifically mention certain taxes by name, thereby making each tier of government competent to legislate on the elements within its competence;
c)    The power to impose a tax may be reserved for not tier of government while the administrative power to collect it may be delegated to another tier;
d)    The power to impose and or collect a tax may be allocated to one tier of government while the proceeds of the tax is allocated to another tiers of government or shared amongst these tiers.
As a point of emphasis/study, the researcher will take a look at the State’s tax powers: It is worthy to note that no tax is specifically reserved for State under the 1999 constitution. The only reference is contained in item 1-9 and 10 of the concurrent legislative list, Section 2 (PITD).

Therefore, in determining the scope of taxing powers of the State, I took a look at the provisions of the legislative powers of the state in section 4(7) of the 1999 constitution that provides that: Section 4(7): The house of Assembly of a State shall have powers to make laws for the peace, order and good government with respect to the following matters.
a)    Any matter not included in the Exclusive legislative list.
b)    Any matter included in the concurrent legislation list.
c)    Any matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

It is clear from the above provision, that the state government have plenary powers to make laws on any subject matters that is not on either the executive or concurrent legislative list. Consequently the state government are not legally competent to impose customs duties, exercise duties income taxes, capital gains tax or any other tax whose base fall within any of federal government.

The implication of this is that while the taxing power of the federal government can be specifically enumerated those of the state are left opened. An attempt was recently made in the taxes and levies Decree, to delimit the scope of taxing powers of the state. Practically, Lagos State has imposed: Tax, Entertainment tax, personal income tax, tenement rates etc.

State government derive their revenue from a variety of sources namely statutory allocations including the federal Account and value added tax, and internally generated funds which is composed of taxes levies collectible by state  government as highlighted by Obi (1997) and they includes: Pay as you earn (PAYE): Direct Assessment; withholding tax (individuals only): Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duties (Instruments executed by individuals): Pools betting lotteries, Gaming and casino taxes: Road taxes; Business premises Registration and Renewal levy (N10,000) for rural areas and renewable with N 1000 per annum):  development levy (individuals only): Naming of street registration fee  in State Capitals;  Right of occupancy fees in State Capitals; and Rates in market where state finances are involved.
In Nigeria, the distributable tax revenue from the Federal Government has been in the ratio of 48.6 percent for the federal government, 24.0 percent for the state, 19.7 percent for local government authorities and 7.7 percent for special funds. In order to compensate the state and Local Government (L.G.) Authorities, the VAT distribution  formula was also reviewed by 2% and 5% respectively for both state and local government.

State government derives their mandate to collect taxes from the federal government. In an attempt to avoid multiplicity of tax levies, the federal government has warned that officials of the state taxes must be approved the joint tax Board operating within the state (FGN 1997).

2.7    RIGHTS OF THE STATE TAX BOARDS AND THE TAX PAYERS: STATE TAX BOARD:  As enumerated by Anyanwu (1997), they day to day administration of personal income tax is the function of the state’s internal revenue department.
The board reserves the right to raise assessment of tax on individual’s residence in the area of authority to collect the assessed taxes of individual. The board also has the right to punish those who refuse to pay tax.
The board has the right to deduct tax from sources, appoint the chairman or commissioner who is turn appoints agents to collect taxes on the board’s approval and pay it to the board.

The tax payer has the right of objection to the authority within 21 days of assessment in writing or in person; he also has the right to appeal if he feels his assessment it in excess.
He has the right to make court action where the authority refused to honor his appeal; he has the right to object on deduction not properly granted and finally he has the right to collect tax in excess i.e, Refunds.

The effect of taxation covers all the changes in the economy resulting from imposition of a tax on the hard earned income of the citizenry with tax the state’s economy would attain a certain level of high production, consumption, investment and employment.

The existence of taxation distorts these patterns of good or for bad, known as the effects of taxation. It is veritable tool for adopting various corrective measure s that may cause distortions in market decisions like in consumption investment and other spheres. In the states and the federal level in general, taxation has played a significant role in adjusting excess money in circulation to curb inflation, when released. It effectively stimulates the economy.
It is necessary for the building, upgrading and maintaining government’s facilities for development that will encourage investment in the state. Through every one is expected to pay his/her share of taxes imposed by government, if the feeling becomes wide spread, the tax system is simply a collection of loopholes and prospective tax payer’s moral declines.
The principle that marginal benefit achieves national choices should be designed so as to incorporate the tax payers into the tax benefits.

The major thirst of the research has been to evaluate taxation as a sources of Government Revenue, using the state (12) as a reference point in the researchers analysis.  This study has identified the various sources of tax revenue that, of all the state of the federation, Lagos state remains the only state of the federation, with sustainable internally generated revenue through a pragmatic expansion of tax mobilization effort. Other findings show that;
-The total internally generated revenue for the state has been consistently larger than the amount received from the federal statutory budget allocation except in 1992.
-Sokoto state, Bauchi, Benue, Kano and Cross River states provides a rather dismal performance with respect to the adequacy of internally generated revenue.
-An estimation of the yearly average loss of revenue to the state for failing to stay close to average performance of the state shoed a cumulative amount of about N4,120.3 million for Sokoto State,
N 3,577.66 million for Bauchi State, N 2,254.4 million for Benue State, N 4361.4 million Gongola   State, N 2,973.7 million for Kano State and N 1,578.1 million for Cross River State between 1992 and 2002.
-The finding also revealed in appendix 1 show also the impressive performance of Lagos State explained in part by the Lagos number of industries located in the State and the consequent high level of economic activities. The results indicate that even in federal government statutory revenue allocation to the state were to fall substantially; Lagos State will still be able to carry on conveniently with the responsibility of government.
– The ration analysis of the various state government shows as somewhat unstable trend, an indication to the fact the state allocations is unstable through  out the periods in use.

A major policy implication of this study is that some state government’s revenue is grossly inadequate to meet their expected expenditure. It is also important to emphasize that the capacity of these state governments to provide adequate public service, maintain these services as well as undertake additional development projects will be severely hampered. If there is shortage of fiscal revenue. Thus, the need for a continuous.

Tax revenue has been referred by Anyanwu (1996), as compulsory transfer or payment of money from private individuals, institutions or groups to the Government. It may be levied upon wealth or income, or in the form of surcharge on prices. In the context of this study, Emphasis was laid on the state tier of administration operation on the concurrent responsibilities of the arm of government .
In order for the tax system to meet the challenges of the next millennium, there is need to improve the Nigerian tax administration; adequately findings of these revenue boards, legal drafting of the tax provision: Provision of infrastructure for tax officials and; granting of tax allowance to same companies, individuals to encourage these groups of people.
Tax efforts should not concentrate only on generating more and more revenue but the cost benefit of doing this should be measured against the federal the failure loss of income that will result if marginal tax payers are driven out of Existence.
Even as state government increased tax effort improves the wealth of the state, the killing of business by the interpretations giving to some provisions of the law may be tantamount to giving with on hand and withdrawing with the other.
In conclusion, one is persuaded to say that in mobilization: Sizeable pool of revenue to meet up with some commitment by the states caution must be taken so as not to discourage investors or potential businessman that will be a catalyst of growth to the state.