SOME experts in Finance and Tax Administration in Kaduna, Kano and Katsina States have called for the strict implementation of the policy on harmonization of taxes in the country.
The experts gave the suggestion in their contributions to a survey on multiple taxation, conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), called for a template that would indicate taxes assigned or labeled to be paid for specific product.
They noted that although there is a body of Federal Inland Revenue Service and those of States aimed at ensuring harmony in collection of taxes, multiple taxation had continued to flourish.
They attributed this development, partly to corruption, as well as the desire to enhance generation of revenue on the part of State and Local Governments across the Federation.
According to them, such multiple taxation is a major factor in the hike of prices of farm produce and other items because such illegal taxes are often passed on to consumers.
They also observed that such development was inimical to the advancement of the economy as climate for inter and intra state business activities were often unfavourable.
Another observation made by the experts was the unwholesome activities of louts, lamenting that in spite of the illegality of such activities, they had been allowed to flourish.
In Kaduna, an Accountant, Mr. Muhammad Musa, said extortion by louts who claim to represent Local Government Councils, as well as the imposition of multiple taxes on trucks conveying agricultural produce, were fueling a surge in prices of food items.
Musa, who is also a transporter, observed that truck drivers carried an average of 30 documents while conveying food produce across states.
“Some of the documents requested by hoodlums in some LGAs are airport route permit, urban city carriage permit, federal ocean terminal refinery route permit and road maintenance route permit.
“Others are independent power plant pollution permit, flood and erosion control permit, oil and gas and petroleum permit, inter-state and inter-local government permit and vehicle road tax, among others.
“There is no specific law in the country that states the legal documents vehicles conveying food produce are expected to have in the country.
“Most Local Government Councils come up with ridiculous documents to extort money from operators, and these extra costs are usually passed on to consumers of the produce,” he lamented.
Mr. Auwal Shafi’u, a staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, said to stabilise food prices in Nigeria, Government at various levels must tackle extortion and harmonise collection of taxes.
However, a financial and economic expert, Dr. Suraj Adewale, said it was not illegal for Local Government Councils to charge certain levies, but it should be done with decorum.
Adewale, who is also a Tax Practitioner, said most of the taxes and charges did not get to the coffers of government.
“Our tax system has to be re-jigged to ensure that those louts do not take advantage of the lapses,” he said.
On his part, Dr Peter Adamu of the Department of Economics, Kaduna State University (KASU), said multiple taxation was a dominant contributor to the impoverishment of the people.
According to him, those trading in food items transfer all taxes to the cost of the produce, thereby raising prices beyond the reach of many households.
He urged government to come up with a template that would indicate taxes assigned or labeled to be paid for specific products.
Meanwhile, Mr Shegun Samuel, Chairman of Kadsico Unit Union (KUU), a tax regulatory union at Karji in Kaduna State, said there were over 10 unions in the state, each claiming to be authentic.
“Unfortunately, while local transport operators are suffering, the state government too is not generating enough revenue due to the proliferation of these unions”, he observed.
He appealed to the state government to, as a matter of urgency, collapse existing unions and come up with a single regulatory union in the state.
In Katsina, an expert on tax collection, Alhaji Ibrahim Kofan-Soro, said multiple taxation, was a serious threat to the advancement of the nation’s economy.
Kofan-Soro, who is also the Director Personal Income Tax, Katsina State Board of Internal Revenue, told NAN that multiple collection of tax, especially on food items, hindered hitch-free business activities.
“When the people doing such business are finding things difficult, they may end up giving up, and that would be a setback to the economy of the country at a micro level,” he said.
The director explained that the tax collection system in states had been harmonised in such a way as to eliminate multiple taxation, and therefore wondered why the problem had remained a challenge.
According to him, there is Joint Task Board (JTB), led by the Head of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), with all the Heads of States Revenue Service as members, adding that JTB ought to ensure sanity in the tax collection arrangement
Meanwhile, in Kano, Malam Bala Gwarzo, Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state, decried multiple levy being imposed on commercial vehicle operators.
Gwarzo told NAN that such multiple taxation was affecting their businesses, particularly for drivers who shuttled between States and Local Government Areas.
He noted that this development had led to hike in prices of food stuffs, and therefore advised the government to consolidate the tax collection arrangement if such had not been done.
Malam Garba Gezawa, a truck driver in Dawanau grains market, Kano State, said most commercial vehicle operators struggled to meet their target due to multiple taxes placed on them.
Ali Salisu, a grains dealer, said lorry drivers were often forced by circumstances to increase transport fares due to high cost of diesel, petrol and multiple taxation.
A tax expert in Kano, Mr Suraj Khalid, called for the harmonisation of tax laws by all tiers of government in the country to curb the growing incidence of multiple taxation.
Khalid, who defined multiple taxation as a situation where the same tax base is taxed more than once by different jurisdictions, said such development was not healthy for the country’s economy.
“The best way to handle multiple taxation is to review the existing tax laws at all levels,” he suggested.
He also said that harmonisation of tax laws among all tiers of government would eliminate overlapping collections of same or similar taxes and levies.(NAN)