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Presidential committee proposes VAT increase

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Oyedele seeks exemption of 95% of small businesses from all taxes

Taiwo Oyedele, chairman of the Presidential Committee on Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms has argued that there is a need to increase the value-added tax (VAT) rate from the current 7.5 percent, while also noting that VAT revenue-sharing formula would be reviewed.

Oyedele who spoke on Monday at a policy exposure and impact assessment session organised by the committee, also said the committee has proposed reviewing state and local governments’ share of VAT revenue to 90 percent.

According to section 40 of the VAT Act, the federal government gets 15 percent of the tax revenue, states share 50 percent, and local governments share the balance of 35 percent.

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But Oyedele said the committee is recommending reducing the federal government’s share from 15 percent to 10 percent.

“We are proposing that the federal government’s portion should be reduced from 15 percent to 10 percent. States’ portion will be increased but they would share 90 percent with local governments,” he said.

“In 1986, we had sales tax collected by states. The military came up with VAT in 1993 and stopped sales tax so they said it would collect VAT and return 15 per cent as cost of collection and that is the 15 per cent charged today came about. But we think it is too much,” he said.

According to him, “So we must make it transparent and neutral and this is what over 100 countries where they have VAT are doing,” Oyedele said.

“Nigeria’s economy is more than 50 percent in services and if I just stop at this, many states will be broke because VAT collection will go down by more than 50 percent and it won’t even fly.

“So we therefore need to adjust the VAT rate upward. We would ensure that it doesn’t affect businesses. The only thing is to look at basic consumption from food, education, medical services and accommodation will carry zero percent VAT. So for the poor and small businesses, no VAT.”

Oyedele said other consumers will have to pay a bit more, while arguing that no one necessarily have to increase the price of commodities.

“We have spoken to businesses about it and they won’t increase the product price. We want to make sure when we do VAT reform, no one will increase the price of commodities. We will work the mathematics with the private sector,” he said.

Oyedele also said each state should not be granted exclusive custodianship of their collections because it would likely result in problems.

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