Nigeria Tax Base Surges, Yet 1 in 4 Work-Age People Registered

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s tax base has surged 36 percent in the past two years, but only about one in four working-age people is registered.

The West African nation has 19 million registered taxpayers compared with 14 million in 2016, the Federal Ministry of Finance said in an emailed statement Thursday from the capital, Abuja. The nation has a population of about 200 million people, about half of whom are aged 15 to 64, World Bank data show.

Nigeria, Africa’s most-populous nation, has a ratio of tax to GDP of 5.9 percent, the lowest among the sub-Saharan countries the International Monetary Fund has measured. That compares with 24.7 percent for South Africa, according to the lender. The two economies vie to be the region’s biggest.

Nigeria could double its tax-to-GDP ratio with reforms to improve efficiency, the IMF said in a report this week. The nation wants to double the proportion by 2020 and will take defaulters who don’t use an amnesty to court, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said in a January interview.

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