Mainstreaming Good Governance into Nigerian Tax Reform

This study seeks to shine a light on key governance issues in the Nigerian tax system beyond the technical issues that have so far been emphasised in Nigeria's tax reform efforts. Those principles are isolated for indepth analysis in the hope of providing a clearer evidence base for addressing them more concertedly as part of the broader tax reform efforts in the country. Naturally the work of tax administrators is easier if taxpayers willingly and voluntarily comply with their obligations under Nigeria's tax laws. However, governance challenges in Nigeria have over time compromised the integrity and effectiveness of tax administration structures, regulations and enforcement. The tenuous support for taxation – and its poor understanding – within the populace stands in the way of progress. This underlines the urgent need for interventions tailored to improving good governance practices as a way of enhancing tax administration and compliance. We examine the strategic steps to improving tax administration in Lagos State and Nigeria as part of the interrelated goals of revenue mobilisation and good governance, which are both cornerstones of sustainable development. In focusing on the nexus between taxation and good governance, it argues that even though tax reforms have been ongoing in Nigeria since 2004 (Lagos State since 1999), with tax revenues growing from 1,194.80 billion in 2004 to 3,741.80 billion in 2015, Nigeria still has a relatively low tax-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio. This is considerably below the average in sub-Saharan Africa.