The study was carried out to find out the impact of taxes on small and medium scale business enterprises in Nigeria.The study aimed at assessing the performance of business enterprises in Nigeria, finding out if tax payers are aware of all their tax obligations, policies and problems affecting them as well as their businesses. The study applied both qualitative and quantitative research designs where interviews and questionnaires were used. Data was collected from both primary and secondary sources. Data was processed and analysed using formal tables, pie charts, narrative text, and correlation to find out the relationship between the impact of taxes and performance of small scale businesses. A total of 50 respondents were considered out of the entire population of small scale and medium enterprises. The findings indicated that the performance of small scale business is affected by stock levels, capital employed, daily expenses, daily sales and the average amount of taxes paid annually.Most business owners are aware of taxes paid, uncertain of the mode of assessment and little assistance is given as regards tax awareness. The findings revealed the problems faced by the small and medium business men as regards mode of assessment, collection and tax collectors, inefficiency by tax collectors, loss of equipment, loss of sales and loss of stock as a result of taxes.Recommendations on impact of taxes included; improvement on the method of collecting taxes, educating the business community about its different tax rates and introducing a scheme that allows tax payers to pay the tax obligation.
Taxation increases incentives for public participation in the political process and creates pressure for more accountability, better governance, and improved efficiency of government spending. Taxation also creates incentives for governments to upgrade their institutions for tax collection and administration and to provide more public services (Moore, 2007).
Taxes have existed virtually as long as there have been organized governments. The first tax law legislation was introduced in 1919 and ever since then taxes have evolved through a number of reforms. The government in an attempt to widen the tax base and collect more revenue has had to levy several taxes especially on business enterprises in Nigeria which constitute a large part of the formal sector. The taxes charged on business enterprises in Nigeria include; corporation tax, value added tax, presumption tax and exercise duty. In 1997 the Income Tax Act was made. This was to give guidance in assessment and computation of taxes (Campsy, 1997). The Nigerian government has made some recommendable efforts to promote development through taxation since the inception of the current taxation laws for purposes of promoting development. The main objective of taxation in Nigeria has always been to mobilise resources needed to meet the aspiration of government. This is because for any government to be effective, strong, competent and capable of spearheading development, resources have to be readily available in its treasury so as to be in position to provide goods and services to the people adequately. The Nigerian government has always had to ensure proper resource mobilization (Musa, 1992).
According to Manasseh (2000), a tax is generally referred to as a compulsory levy imposed by government upon various categories of assets and taxation is a compulsory and non refundable contribution imposed by government for public purposes. In Nigeria a considerable fraction of the businesses are sole traders operating small scale business, locally owned and managed by individuals or families and often with very few employees working at a single location (Nigeria development bank report, 1988). Taxation in Nigeria is based on system that existed in Britain as it was a British colony. This also applied to other colonies elsewhere and for East Africa, one tax system operated under British administration. This process began in 1900 with the hut tax regulation which imposed a standard charge for every hut/dwelling.
During that period, taxation was aimed at raising revenue for the administrative structure imposed by the colonial government but also as a means of encouraging monetary/economic activities. It was the Local Authority Ordinance of 1991 that governed the collection of taxes. In September 1991, after a period of review the Rural Revenue Authority (URA) was established. All taxes including income tax came under the umbrella of the URA. From 1992, URA has been organizing and strengthening the administrative procedures and in 1993 this process assisted by a grant from the British government of approximately US$ 10million.
At least 50 small scale business enterprises were selected in illorin, almost all of them employ 2-4 people. These small scale businesses are locally owned and managed by private individuals who sometimes employ their family members. These small and medium scale businesses bear a wide tax burden which has led to poor performance. Therefore, it was against this background that the researcher undertook the study to investigate more about the problem using Nigeria as a case study to evaluate the impact of taxes on small and medium scale business enterprises.
Taxes are raised by the government to generate revenue used to provide services to the public such as; Health centers, telecommunication, roads, schools and electricity and this have helped to improve the performance of small and medium scale business enterprises. Despite the services provided, small and medium scale business enterprises performance in Nigeria is still poor. This could be due to the increasing tax burden brought about by tax rates which are revised annually. These rates seem to be taking an upward trend (Gordon and Dawson, 1987) which has led to winding up of some small scale business enterprises. This prompted the researcher to investigate more about the impact of taxes on small scale business enterprises.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the impact of taxes on small scale business enterprises in Nigeria. The specific objectives are:
1. To assess the impact of taxation on small and medium scale business enterprises in Nigeria.
2. To find out if tax payers are aware of all their tax obligations and policies.
1.4 Research questions
1. What is the effect of taxes on the performance of small scale business in Nigeria?
2. Are tax payers aware of all their obligations?
3.What are the problems faced by tax payers?