NASU urges introduction of tax ceiling to protect low-income workers
The Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), has urged state and federal governments to introduce tax ceilings for low income workers to protect them from excessive and multiple taxes.
The General-Secretary of NASU, Peters Adeyemi, who stated this in Abuja, maintained that there should be a poverty line, and anybody earning below it should not pay income tax.
Adeyemi said that the desire of governments to help the economy through imposition of excessive and multiple taxes, is causing unbearable hardship to workers as a result of inadequate incomes, high prices, homelessness, poverty, and loss of purchasing power. He therefore declared that it was time to end excessive and multiple taxes in Nigeria.
The non-academic union also called for the abrogation of the National Housing Fund Law, and stoppage of further deductions in the name of the Fund from salaries of its members, as the Fund has failed to achieve its objectives.
Adeyemi said: “These excessive and multiple taxes are being imposed by the federal and state governments without being sensitive to the plight of workers. These taxes include income tax, value added tax, bank charges tax, communications tax as well as the National Housing Fund. On several occasions, we have had cause to talk to governments about negative effects of these taxes and their excessive nature on our members’ welfare.”
The NASU scribe said the National Housing Fund had outlived its usefulness and should be disbanded, adding, “unfortunately, not up to 10 per cent of Federal public servants have been able to access the Fund. This situation has caused NASU members to rename the Fund as ‘National Housing Fraud’. This is an un-progressive tax that is unprofitable to the contributors and the nation, therefore, it has to be stopped.”
Adeyemi alleged that only workers pay taxes in Nigeria, while big businesses get tax rebate and exemptions.His words: “Big businesses get tax exemptions and tax holidays. No matter who governments actually bill for tax, workers end up actually footing the bill for each and every other tax levied in this country. When a business must pay tax, it cannot pay it out of profits. It raises the prices of the products it sells; and for manufacturing companies, they will be tempted to reduce the quality of the product all in order to reduce the effect of the tax on the profit of the company (shareholders’ money).
In either case, the worker ends up paying the company tax. The first is that the worker pays the cost of the tax when he pays for the product at a higher price, the tax having been factored into the price of the good. In the second instance, the worker again pays the cost of the tax when he has to replace the product more frequently, because of the inferior nature as it either breaks down or wears out frequently.”
To meet previous agreements such as rents, school fees, and those that are incidental in nature like unforeseen medical bills, Adeyemi submitted that workers are left with no other option than to resort to obtaining loans from lenders, especially banks with resultant high interest rates.
“Those in the top echelon of businesses, or their class collaborators in the political class as well as public service bureaucrats seldom go for loans, as their allowances are adequate enough to take care of their incidentals. Provisions are also made in their Conditions of Service for medical treatment in highbrow medical institutions within and outside the country,” he stated.Adeyemi argued that when added up, it is only NASU members and other workers as well as the downtrodden masses that pay taxes.
“These burden of excessive and multiple taxes has impoverished the average worker in Nigeria. The salaries and wages paid to them can no longer be regarded as living wage, as they have become slave wages, forcing our members to live below internationally-declared poverty line. The whole issue is compounded by the absence of any social security safety net in the country, and the fact that they are not counted among the 10,695,360 individual households the Federal Government declared as poor households in Nigeria as at 29th February 2020, which disqualified them from the conditional cash transfers of the Federal Government,” he said.
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