Lionel Messi’s Trial: It Is Time To Start “Padding” Our Tax Literary And Transparency – Adeniyi Bamgboye
Lionel Messi is unarguably a soccer god. His performance on the football pitch is always extra terrestrial. You can’t just but fall in love with his football mastery and genius. It is safe to say success is no news to him. Here’s someone who has five ballons d’or in his kitty, four of which he won consecutively coupled with other brand endorsements and several millions of dollars in his bank accounts. On 6 July 2016, he was convicted alongside his father for tax forgery by the Spanish government with 21 prison months’ sentences and fines to go with it.
This piece was written by Adeniyi Bamgboye Emmanuel. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.
On the home front, Gov Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State was recently ordered to vacate his office by a Federal High Court in Abuja upon allegations of false information and forgery of tax documents prior to the 2015 gubernatorial election. Although, the case is still in court, two things stand as key learning points from these two cases which are – ignorance of the law is no longer an excuse and also, tax literacy is very necessary for every individual irrespective of his/her status in the society.
You may say Lionel Messi is a footballer and should be less bothered about his tax obligations and remittances. Fine. But remember the onus was on him to prove himself innocent. No tax consultant spoke for him when the chips were down. It was never on record that he complained about being under or over taxed.
You may say also Gov. Ikpeazu worked as a civil servant, and also expect that the appropriate amount of tax should have been deducted from his salary at source while in service. But, being someone who was about to vie for a highly sensitive position such as that of the governor of a state, nothing stops him from subjecting himself for skeletal tax health check before swimming inside the murky ocean of politics. Maybe, the lacuna in his tax records would have been spotted and closed at that time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Some people would say his trial is being used by his political opponents to hound him, but truth be told, he made himself vulnerable. That’s a story for another day. Always check well before you append your signature on any document. If you are in doubt, ask questions.
Taxation serves as a strong fiscal instrument of the Government. To keep the economy afloat, the government now sees taxes and other levies as the new crude and source of income especially, when the relevance of internally generated revenue (taxes) to the Nigerian economy has been on the high side since the fall of price of crude. The rate at which the federal government is trying to achieve its N4.9 trillion revenue target from non-oil collection is also a pointer to fact that it isn’t business as usual.
Tax literacy is presently at the lowest ebb in our clime which is also responsible for the high tax evasion rate being experienced. The informal sector which is the engine room of every economy needs to be properly factored into the revenue generation drive of the government. How? Through increased tax awareness programmes, transparency and accountability from government at all levels. The taxpayers should be able to have a high level of comfort that their tax payments would be used for judicious projects that will better their lives and that of their future generations and not to be looted and mismanaged. Once this is properly done, it will create an atmosphere of trust and ensure voluntary compliance from tax payers.
The word “padding” is now popular especially judging from latest happenings in the National Assembly. Now, it is the time we “pad” our tax literacy level as citizens while the government should also replicate that in ensuring transparency. For instance, an average citizen of this country should know where, how and when to filing his/her tax returns while the government should be able to provide reasonable evidence of what the tax revenue was used for. In short, ensure you pay the right amount of tax, either as an individual or a business owner/corporate entity in order to avoid the taxman’s axe.
Though, Gov Ikpeazu’s case is still in court, Lionel Messi is now an ex convict. Whether he stays in prison or not. He will have to live with that sigma for the rest of his life.
A child who has no mother will not have scars to show on his back.
Adeniyi Bamgboye is a consultant who focuses on accounting, audit, tax and business advisory. He trained with EY. He holds a MBA in financial management. He is a member of Association of Certified Chartered Accountant (ACCA), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN). He can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.