Do Nigerians prefer to pay their tax or tithe? It may seem like a frivolous question, but the answers provide a revealing insight into the state of Nigeria.
For those who don’t know, a tax is a compulsory contribution a citizen must pay to their state government, most often on your income or business profit. A tithe is a voluntary contribution taken by the church or mosque, often one tenth of your earnings, to be used to support the church, pastors, and charitable work.
“I would rather pay my tithe,” explains one Lagos trader. “Who does paying your tax help? I’ve not seen any effect of paying my tax on the economy.”
Paying tax provides more revenue for governments to provide infrastructure, healthcare, education, and much more. The more Nigerians that pay tax, the more they theoretically feel they have a stake in the country and thus democratic process, encouraging them to vote, and so encouraging politicians to put taxes to better use for the citizens. Many companies must pay their workers salaries automatically from their salaries, but many self-employed do not pay their taxes in Nigeria. Many Nigerians are concerned that politicians simply steal the money for themselves.
“I’m a citizen, and I know it’s illegal for me to pay my tax, but I’ve not paid tax ever once before,” says one young Nigerian man.
“Because of corruption I would chose to pay my tithe,” says a young man. “The so-called tax we know those who embezzle the money through corruption.”
Despite such concerns, Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service have stated that tax authorities have added 3, 414, 496 million new taxpayers to the national tax register under six months in 2016, bringing the total number of individual taxpayers in the country to 13.4 million,
In christianity they are called tithes and in Islam they are called zakat, and are voluntary contributions for the church/mosque to help the poor. However, like with taxes, many worry that the money is going to help the pastors enrich themselves.
“It is mandatory for every christian to pay tithe because if you do not pay god will definitely come for it, and you won’t like the way he comes for it,” says one Nigerian woman.
“I never miss my tithe, every sunday I get paid,” says one Lagos man. “But I won’t lie, I’ve never paid my tax because I just have never paid it.”
“I would rather pay my tithe, than tax, because I feel the government is cheating me, I’m feeling used,” says one young Lagos trader.
But despite peoples reluctance to pay their tax, even the bible says you must render onto caesar what is caesars.
Which would you rather pay – your tax or your tithe.