How to make Davido pay the tax off his 500Million Naira with a dimpled smile

If Davido’s 30 Billion trademark ever seemed like an outrageous exaggeration to anyone, his recent achievements are begging for a slight rethink. Counting his blessings publicly, OBO claims to have raked in 500 million Naira on the grand finale night of his 7-month long world tour in 2017 and his newly acquired 2018 Bentley Bentayga automobile (estimated around 85 Million Naira) stands as quite a believable fraction of this testimony.
David’s favourite number (which he might truly own by association) may be a little far-fetched from what the artiste is indeed worth for now but you know what else was once far-fetched from the music industry as we used to know it? A musician making half a billion Naira in one night.

Judging from financial forecasts and the fact that the industry has barely scratched the surface of its potentials, Nigerian music is clearly a world wonder waiting to be discovered and the Government, albeit in snail mode, is awakening to this reality. There certainly has been quite some evidence of involvement, partnership and support for local musicians from governing bodies on various levels; however, one fragment in which they seem to be twice as excited about, is what could be rerouted back to the national and state coffers in tax remittance, from this gradual boom.

Love Letter to Falz from LIRS

Only a few days ago, Falz The Bahd Guy shared his love letter from the LIRS (Lagos Inland Revenue Service) directing him to fulfill his civic and statutory obligation of filing his returns for the income year of 2017- which of course is expected to lead to remittance of his personal income tax.
Now that Davido has conducted a mini declaration of assets on his social media, it is only a matter of time before his own love letter reaches him too.

Screenshot of tweet from @Lumes_bg

The figure below is the vaguest you will process today (because I do not know the first thing about how taxes add up and there are many bespoke dynamics) but I randomly threw in David’s 500mill into the business income box of the LIRS tax calculator and I have one question. Is Imade’s father really in the mood for this math? Even Falz who is a legal practitioner acknowledged his letter with an eye rolling smiley???.

Joke of the century???

Taxes must be paid but, there are valid buts.

At the opening of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme -VAIDS, Vice President- Professor Yemi Osibanjo confirmed the following FIRS stats.

  • Only 14% of Nigerians pay taxes even when about 70 million Nigerians are said to be economically active (10% via PAYE, 4% via Direct Assessment)
  • Out of the directly assessed populace of 4%, 214 Nigerians pay taxes of N20 million or more annually (Taxed from 80 million+ annual income -all from Lagos state)
  • Only 914 of them pay taxes of over N10 million annually (912 from Lagos State, 2 from Ogun State)

What these funky numbers mean is that tax evasion is the order of the day in ALL sectors, including the Nigerian music industry that only recently started to find it feet in the scheme of things. Best believe that those who can avoid paying will heartily and continuously do so while those who cannot, will do anything to make sure that they remit as little as made possible. What else is expected when the default perception of Nigeria is that there is little or no evidence of how allocated budgets are spent let alone where tax payers’ money truly go to?

With genuine collaborative effort, everybody eats.

Let’s take for instance, the issue of telcos playing the role of labels and retaining lion revenue shares: Perhaps, one way to tip the imbalanced scale might be for the government to get more involved by putting effective regulations in place that will ensure fair wealth distribution including other systematic reforms that will launch the industry in its much needed definitive structure. These will in turn create a ripple of more investors, tons of direct and indirect job opportunities, a much healthier economy, satisfied and gingered stakeholders, an industry that trusts the government and an industry happily obliged to pay its tax.

Wishful thinking? Yes but we’re going to need to start from somewhere, somehow.

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