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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Opinion: Buhari Should Tax The Rich More And Raise Minimum Wage

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by Ahmed Adamu

There have been misconception that giving tax incentives to the rich help incentivise job creation, because the capitalists are perceived to be job creators. The truth is, they do not.  Ordinary consumer is more of a job creator than a capitalist.

Business people taking credit for creating jobs is highly unfair. Business people hire people as their last resort, as they only hire to keep pace with the consumer demand. The Nigerian Personal Income Tax act is unfair for allowing fixed tax rate for resident companies, while varying that of personal income tax rates. 

The rigidity of the resident company tax rate allows for unnecessary overgrowing of few companies and making many more to close down. Small, medium and big companies pay 30% of their profits as tax irrespective of their return and size.

Consequently, rich are getting richer and more citizens that are of middle class were relegated. Statistics have shown that, we have more unemployment as number of millionaires increases over time. If number of millionaires can create jobs, we will not have the level of unemployment we are having now in the country, which is of a record high (23.9%), this without including the estimated 30% more that are under-employed.

The individual consumer needs to be incentivised. If the minimum wage is to keep pace with the inflation rate, the minimum wage would have been anything above N25, 000 by now just within five years since it was reviewed to N18, 000. Jobs are consequence of eco-systemic feedback loop between customers and businesses. If the middle class thrive and do well, both the capitalist and the poor benefit. 

Therefore, let the rich be taxed more, so that we can create more middle class people, who consumes more and then create jobs by virtue of their consumptions. Company tax system should be proportionate to the income level. Business with profit less than N80 million should be taxed at 25%, business profits above N80 million but not up to N500 million should be taxed at 30%, and any profit margin above N500 million should be taxed at 35%.

This should not include companies operating in the petroleum sector. There should not be credit breaks for big companies, unless for special circumstances. However, tax breaks can be allowed for small and medium companies.  Minimum wage should be upgraded to N25,000. 

With the pending austerity measures, government expenditure (recurrent) must be reduced by at least 10% every year for four years, the tax rates should be increased and compliance enforced. Compliance will not be a big deal because people now have trust and confidence on the government.

However, there should be immediate reflection of benefits derived from tax payments. This should be showcased in areas like improving access to electricity, increasing the minimum wage, improving access to quality and affordable health care and educational system. 

All leakages of government revenue resulting from corruption should be blocked and channeled that to power sector at least in the short term.

 Ahmed Adamu (PhD), is the President of the Commonwealth Youth Council.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer.

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