It’s not every time that you walk through the doors of a Church, expecting to hear a sermon on taxation. The odds are really stacked against that occurrence. We expect the Church to dish out sermons on moral instruction (and its siblings), but, who said talking about taxation is not a form of moral instruction.
Yesterday, being the first Sunday of the New Year was engulfed in an atmosphere of thanksgiving. Church attendees were therefore surprised when the pastor said he was going to talk on “paying tax”. Here are a few things I wrote down in Church (plus some “jara” of my own).
Paying taxes is one of the civic responsibilities of every citizen in a country. However, in Nigeria, many citizens do not bother about paying direct taxes (I’m assuming that most indirect taxes such as VAT on purchases are more difficult to avoid).
In Nigeria, persons who fail to pay taxes fall in one of three categories:
- The ignorant ones
- The indifferent ones
- The angry ones
The “ignorant ones” sincerely do not know that they are supposed to pay tax. With the high illiteracy rate in Nigeria, this group has a large pool to draw from.
The “indifferent ones” do not see any reason why the government should demand taxes from them. This group covers a broad spectrum from small-scale business owners, to big corporations who exploit tax loopholes to maximise their profit.
The “angry ones” believe that government officials have no moral right to demand for taxes. These ones point to the prevalent corruption as a reason why they would not give their hard-earned money to some official thieves.
The unfortunate thing is that a good percentage of the three groups are people who profess to be Christians. The ignorance of the first group can be overlooked, but the others constitute wilful disobedience to constituted authority. Last time I checked, disobedience counts as a sin against God.
Followers of Christ should follow His example. The bible records that Jesus paid His taxes, and he advised us to give the government its due. A Christian who pays tithes but avoids taxes should consider himself/herself as a sneaky robber.
The government needs our taxes to run its programmes and provide social amenities for the citizens. The funds may not currently be utilized judiciously, but that does not mean we should choose to default. Two wrongs have never in history made a right.
Let’s do our part to fulfil our civic responsibilities, and then, pressure the government to do its own part. Nigeria would be better for us all.
Have a great week.