INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the Study The government of Nigeria, like others in different parts of the world, has legislative powers to impose on its citizens, any form of tax and at whatever rate it deems appropriate (Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria [CITN], 2002). According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary tax can be defined as money that has to be paid to the government so that it can provide public services. Similarly, The Black Law Dictionary defines it as: “Monetary charge imposed by the government on persons, entities or property, levied to yield public revenue” , In addition, Cooley in “The Law of Taxation” defines taxes as: “Enforced proportional contributions from persons and property levied by the state, by virtue of its sovereignty, for support of government and for all public needs” Therefore, in a simple term, taxation is a compulsory contribution levied by a sovereign power on the incomes, profits, goods, services or properties of individuals and corporate persons, trusts and settlement. Such taxes when collected are used for carrying out governmental functions for example, maintenance of law and order, provision of infrastructure, health, and education of the citizens, or as a fiscal tool for controlling the economy. The history of taxation in Nigeria dates back to the pre-colonial era. Before the colonization of the different entities which were later amalgamated under the name Nigeria, there were different systems of taxation existing in the forms of compulsory services, contribution of goods, money, labour, etc. amongst the various kingdoms, ethnic groups and tribes controlled by the Obas, Emirs, Ezes, Attahs, Ohinoyis and Amanyanabos, in order to sustain the monarchs (CITN, 2002). However, Nigerian taxation in its present form is traced to the establishment of the British colony in Lagos on August 6, 1861 and subsequent amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914. The administration of taxation in Nigeria is vested in various tax authorities depending on the type of tax under consideration. These three authorities are Federal Inland Revenue Service Board, State Internal Revenue Service Board and Local Government areas. Tax administration in local government areas is done by local government revenue committee. This is a committee charged with the responsibility for the assessment and collection of all fines, fees, and rates under its jurisdiction and accounting for all amounts so collected in a manner to be prescribed by the chairman of the local government. Local government revenue committee was established by PITA 1993(S. 85D), as amended in 2004, which stipulates that local government shall be autonomous of the local government treasury and shall be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Local Government Revenue Department, which is its operational arm (Ogbonna, 2010). The committee is headed by a Chairman/CEO and’ is responsible for the collection of taxes which includes but not limited to shops and kiosks rates, tenement rates, marriage, birth and death registration fees, cattle tax-payable by cattle farmers only; customary burial ground permit fees, signboard and advertisement permit fees, market taxes government treasury liquor license fees, slaughter slab fees, naming of streets registration fee excluding any street in the state capital, right of occupancy fees on lands in rural areas excluding those collectible by the federal and state governments, market taxes and levies excluding any market where state finance is involved, motor park levies, domestic animal license fees, bicycle, truck, canoe, wheel barrow and cart fees, merriment and road closure levy, radio and television license fees (other than radio and television transmitter) vehicle radio license fees (to be imposed by the local government of the state in which the car is registered), wrong parking charges, public convenience, sewage and refuse disposal fees, customary burial ground permit fees, religious places establishment permit fees, Signboard and advertisement permit fees etc., (Ogbonna, 2010). He also noted that the administration of the above listed taxes in local government areas is not very efficient as a result of lack of the necessary infrastructures, qualified manpower, and incentives to tax officials, tax evasion and public resistance to pay taxes, which arise from inadequate awareness, greed and corrupt practices of tax officials.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem Over the years it has been observed that one of the most critical challenges facing local government areas is that individuals, hardly pay the normal tax they ought to pay as at when due to sustain economic development. The prevalence of tax evasion and tax avoidance is on the increase in local government areas (Ogbonna, 2010). The problem, perhaps, is that the enforcement machinery of tax laws in local government areas is so porous that anybody can go against it without being punished and this does not augur well for the development of these areas (Ogbonna, 2010). He also observed that those charged with tax administration are not empowered with the necessary equipment to perform. They are more often than not so ill equipped, so ill trained, and so neglected that they become disillusioned, discouraged, frustrated and therefore hardly give their best services. From all indications, tax administration in local government areas is generally poor and inefficient. So many reasons have been adduced for the poor state of tax administration. Various tiers of government, tax administrators, tax practitioners, and institutions have tried to improve tax administration machinery in the local government areas but to no avail. Even the good tax reforms lack proper and honest implementation (Ogbonna 2010). In spite of these efforts, there are still a myriad of problems militating against effective and efficient tax system in local government areas. This has therefore prompted the researcher to raise the following research questions Are proper records of taxpayers maintained in these local government areas? Are there qualified personnel in these local governments to handle tax matters? Are there adequate logistics arrangements for tax collection in these local government areas? How knowledgeable are the tax administrators on tax assessment/collection?
1.3 Objectives of the Study The broad objective of this study is to determine the challenges of taxation administration in Egor, Oredo, and Ikpoba-okha of Edo state. However, the specific objectives are to: ascertain if proper records of the tax payers are maintained; examine the qualification of those that handle tax matters; find out the adequacy of the logistics arrangement for tax collection in the local government areas; and assess the level of tax knowledge of the administrators on tax assessment/collection.
1.4 Research Hypotheses HO: There is no improper maintenance of taxpayers’ records HA: There is improper maintenance of taxpayers’ records HO: There are no qualified personnel in these local governments to handle tax matters HA: There are qualified personnel in these local governments to handle tax matters HO: There are no inadequate logistics arrangements for tax collection in these local government areas. HA: There are inadequate logistics arrangements for tax collection in these local government areas. HO: Tax administrators are not knowledgeable on tax assessment/collection HA: Tax administrators are knowledgeable on tax assessment/collection
1.5 Scope of the Study The research is aimed at studying the challenges of taxation administration in EGOR, OREDO, and IKPOBA-OKHA Local Government Areas in Edo State. The population of this study comprises tax administrators and taxpayers in these local government areas. Thus, respondents will be randomly drawn from these groups and used as sample for the study.
1.6 Significance of the Study This study is beneficial, as it will expand the frontiers of knowledge. Specifically, one of the groups to benefit from this study is: The local government tax authorities: the study is important because it proffers possible solutions to the challenges of taxation administration that would bring about efficient and effective tax administration in the various local government areas.
Limitations of the Study The most challenging limitation to this study is the smallness of the sample size. The larger the sample size, the more representative it is of the entire population. The researcher was restricted to only three local government areas as a result of constraint of time and financial resources. Furthermore, the tendency of the respondents to give inaccurate information was also a challenge.