Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, says the federal government will soon start collecting luxury taxes.
Addressing journalists at the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington DC on Sunday, Adeosun said people with higher income must bear a greater part of the tax burden.
“The luxury tax planned by the federal government is being finalised now because it cuts across the ECOWAS. There is a legal process you must go through, including the customs union to actually vary the specific taxes,” she said.
“The problem we have in the country is not just that the system needs to be overhauled, it is also that people are not complying and this is because there is no consequence. We have just started with Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) as a measure to tackle that and the response is impressive.
“In any tax system, the burden must be borne by anybody whose income allows to bear it, so those with higher income should by definition, bear a greater part of the burden.”
She disclosed that some rich people had approached her to speak to their governors about taxes payable to state governments.
“In fact, people have started declaring and I have had a number of approaches from high net worth people asking me to speak on their behalf to state governors to allow them time to comply because their personal taxes are payable to state governments,” she said.
“I have encouraged every governor that everyone who comes to declare should be given enough time to pay up. This is because the amount of tax that they would have to pay is big.
“Whether taxing the rich will increase public revenue or not, it is all about public revenue to which they are obligated for public services.
“The problem currently is that those at the lower level are the ones paying. If the man in the traffic control, with little income will pay at source, why should we not pursue the billionaire or the trillionaire to pay out of the income? We need to change the mindset in the country with regards to tax system.”
In August, Adeosun announced that the federal government had signed a policy to tax first class and business class air tickets alongside other luxury goods.
Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, had earlier said making the rich pay more taxes will not solve the problem of inequality in the world and advised countries to reduce the gender gap between men and women.
However, Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said women have not been approaching the bank to access the funds set aside for small and medium scale entrepreneurs.
“Of course I am a man, but I need to say there is a need to support women. In our micro, small and medium enterprises funds (MSMEs) of N220 billion, 60% is reserved for women but we are not even seeing the women coming,” he said
Adeosun also called for the creation of more opportunities for women saying “investing in women is the best investment any country can make”.