Nigerian Tax Research Network (NTRN)

Image credit: © Rhiannon McCluskey, Rhiannon McCluskey

Discover the new NTRN Library here: www.eldis.org/ntrn   

The NTRN is a new initiative of the ICTD funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of the NTRN is to support the generation and exchange of tax knowledge in Nigeria by:

1. Providing a platform for knowledge exchange and for evidence-based debate on tax issues, through seminars and conferences.
2. Facilitating coordination and complementarity between existing projects and actors active in the area of tax in Nigeria.
3. Providing funding for high quality, policy-relevant research mainly or wholly led and undertaken by Nigerian researchers.

NTRN stakeholders include tax practitioners and researchers from both Nigerian and international organisations. It is concerned with all topics related to taxation, ranging from tax policy to tax administration, and from academic papers to practical studies.

The Chair of the NTRN is Mrs Ifueko M. Omoigui Okauru and the Research Coordinator is Dr Olly Owen.

The NTRN was formally launched on 12-14th of September at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja. The ICTD has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, which includes cooperation on the NTRN.

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News and Events:

February 2019
news
Call for research proposals: Nigerian Tax Research Network

The ICTD is calling for research proposals in relation to the Nigerian Tax Research Network (NTRN). The NTRN is an initiative of the ICTD funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and in partnership with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). The NTRN is a network of Nigerian researchers and practitioners, with the main objective of supporting…

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Publications:

Integrating Tax Challenges of Local Market Traders in International Tax Justice Campaigns
by Kas Sempere

This research in brief is a summary of ICTD Working Paper 80 by Kas Sempere : In the broad sense, ‘tax justice’ explores pro-poor and redistributive tax systems able to reduce inequality. It involves a transparent process of pro-poor collection (those who have less, pay less) and pro-poor expenditure (those who have less, receive more),…

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Tax Unrest Among Market Traders: The Local Side of ActionAid’s International Tax Justice Campaign in Nigeria
by Kas Sempere

Tax justice has become a popular concept, and a number of international tax justice campaigns have exposed aspects such as the unfairness of tax havens and harmful tax breaks. Yet, the idea of tax justice at the local level is less well-known. The impact of campaigns to end tax havens and harmful tax competition may…

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January 2018
Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos
by Tom Goodfellow & Olly Owen

Major taxation reforms over the past decade have been interpreted as facilitating the transformation of Lagos: once widely seen as a city in permanent crisis, it is now seen by some observers as a beacon of megacity development. Most academic attention has focused on personal income taxation, which comprises the lion’s share of government revenue…

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January 2018
Taxation, Property Rights and the Social Contract in Lagos
by Tom Goodfellow & Olly Owen

Major taxation reforms over the past decade have been interpreted as facilitating the transformation of Lagos from of a city seen as in permanent ‘crisis’ to a beacon of ‘megacity development’. Most attention has focused on Personal Income Taxation (PIT). Less attention has been devoted to another innovation – the property tax or Land Use…

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Blogs:

February 2019
by Laura Rossouw

Cigarette sales in most African countries are going up all the time. But smoking rates are much lower than in high-income countries. Because of these comparatively lower smoking prevalence rates – combined with the urgent need to address infectious diseases – tobacco control policies have largely not been prioritised. Nigeria is a case in point. Preventing smoking rates…

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August 2018
by Kas Sempere

What does tax justice mean at the local level, and how can the experiences of informal market traders be linked with broader international campaigns? This blog draws out insights from ActionAid’s experience of incorporating the demands of market traders in Nigeria into its international tax justice campaign.

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July 2018
by Bukola Bolarinwa, Olly Owen & Tom Goodfellow

Since the turn of the millennium, the Lagos State government has made no secret of its ambitious plans to become an African ‘world class’ city, realizing its vision through borrowing as well as increased tax revenues. With 70% of the State being made up of water, land is a scarce and precious resource, so much…

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Research Projects:

Past Project
Maximizing Revenue Generation from an Amnesty Program: Evidence from the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme in Nigeria
Project Researchers: Oyebola M. Okunogbe

This project examines how technology and third party information can be harnessed to promote tax compliance in the context of an amnesty program. Nigeria’s ongoing amnesty program, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) is a time-limited opportunity for taxpayers to declare their previously undeclared assets and income for tax purposes. To avoid moral hazard problems (citizens’ expectation of future amnesties), amnesty programs must be credibly done once. As such, amnesty programs provide a small window of opportunity to collect previously undeclared taxes in exchange for forgiveness of interest and penalties, and it is crucial that the one-time opportunity be maximized. In practice, since it will be impractical to prosecute an extremely large number of persons believed to have been under-declaring or not declaring at all, amnesty programs must rely on voluntary compliance and can achieve this by increasing citizens’ perceptions of the expected costs of non-compliance following the amnesty. In a country like Nigeria where tax liabilities have not been enforced in the past, the challenge is to convince people that coming forward during the amnesty (a certain cost) is better than not coming forward and risking the possibility of enforcement afterwards. This study therefore seeks to assess different ways by which the Nigerian government can increase the perceived risk of enforcement following the amnesty in order to maximize compliance during the amnesty period.

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Past Project
Economic and Political Consequences of Revenue Composition across States in Nigeria
Project Researchers: Oyebola M. Okunogbe

The recent crash in oil prices and subsequent economic crisis has highlighted the grave consequences that are associated with Nigeria’s heavy dependence on oil revenue and its low tax base. While this pattern is well known for the country, there is limited evidence on the state-by-state variation in oil dependence and economic outcomes. This study aims to fill this gap by examining to what extent reliance on oil provides an explanation for the differences in the abilities of states to weather the economic crisis.

Further, there is a growing body of research that that the more dependent a government is on tax revenues, the better the level of public goods it provides. At the same time, increased taxation may stimulate an increased interest and involvement of citizens in the political process, which in turn shapes political institutions and government policy. These two ideas are closely related to the idea of a social contract between government and citizens and this study will seek to shed light on both. This study will provide evidence on how public good provision across states in Nigeria responds to the reliance on taxation relative to oil revenue as well as the extent to which citizens become more politically active.

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Past Project
Acceptance of e-Tax Filling by Micro-entrepreneurs in North-Western Nigeria
Project Researchers: Dr. Abdulsalam Mas'ud, Hussaini Adamu Federal Polytechnic

Nigerian tax-to-GDP ratio has been deteriorating from 7% in 2013 to 6% in 2017, which is far below the generally acceptable threshold of 15%; possibly due to lack of filing tax return by over 65% of the registered taxpayers. Hence, e-tax filling was introduced to improve tax administration efficiency. Notwithstanding, Nigerian tax system remains the most complex in Africa as it takes about 908hrs to comply, higher than the regional average of 307hrs. Therefore, this study investigates the factors influencing the acceptance of e-tax filling by micro-entrepreneurs in Northwestern Nigeria. The data of the research will be collected through questionnaire. Partial Least Squares (PLS) Structural will be used for data analysis. The research could have the policy implications of highlighting means of reducing the percentage of taxpayers not filing their tax returns, reducing compliance complexity, and guide to board of internal revenues of the Northwest when introducing e-tax filing systems.

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Past Project
Bridging the gap between tax avoidance and compliance: can the framing of tax as a responsible business practice help?
Project Researchers: Bongo Adi, Lagos Business School, Kenneth Amaeshi, University of Edinburgh & Godson Ikiebey, ESG Advisory

Why do firms engage in aggressive corporate tax planning and tax avoidance? (How) can self-regulation, through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), complement public regulation in minimising the negative impacts of aggressive corporate tax planning and tax avoidance on government tax revenues? These questions bring to the fore the tension between tax illegitimacy and legality, which can confuse actors – e.g. regulators, managers, tax accountants, lawyers, and consultants – and obfuscate tax policies (West, 2017). As such, the tension needs to be resolved to enhance tax compliance and minimise irresponsible strategic tax planning, which is an economic leakage. In addition, the questions seek to explore how the emerging field and practice of CSR in Nigeria, which has been predominantly and erroneously framed as philanthropy (Amaeshi et al., 2006; Amaeshi et al., 2015), can be leveraged, by interested actors, to address possible reductions in government tax revenues (partly as a result of aggressive strategic tax planning and tax avoidance schemes) by framing taxation as a responsible business practice. This dual mandate lies at the heart of this research project. Data collection will involve interviews and focus groups with selected tax actors. It is anticipated that the findings will contribute to practice, policy, and theory.

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Past Project
Small Businesses and the Adoption of the Integrated Tax Administration System in Nigeria
Project Researchers: Efobi Uchenna, Covenant University, Beecroft Ibukun, Covenant University & Belmondo Tanankem, Ministry of Economy, Planning and Regional Development

In 2017 the Federal Inland Revenue Service (henceforth, FIRS) introduced the Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) with the aim of improving ease of doing business with FIRS, enhancing voluntary compliance and boosting revenue generation. Knowing that the Nigerian private sector has had history of low adoption of technologies like the mobile money service introduced by the Central Bank in 2011, this study seeks to understand the level of awareness and rate of adoption of ITAS by both the company and personal income tax payers. It also seeks to understand the factors that drive the adoption of this system, including the firm/business characteristics, the corporate governance structure, and the external environment that surrounds the firm/business operations.

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