This thesis is a study of the Administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District 1902- 1960. The period chosen marked the incursion of British colonial activities into the area. The study of colonial taxation in the area revealed that taxation was used as an instrument for subverting the resources of the area. Colonial taxation has in no small measure rendered Africa dependent of the Colonial economy. Colonial taxation was a major tool used by the colonialists to achieve capitalist ambitions in Nigeria. It helped in the creation of the colonial economy whereby taxes were only allowed to be paid in British currency. In addition to all these, the use of forced labour in the tin mines and railway construction contributed immensely to the success of the colonial economy. Colonial taxation brought a setback on agricultural activities and other means of livelihood of the People such as mat making and bee-keeping. Colonial taxation led to forced migrations, increase in social vices like stealing and lying, child labour and slavery and other dehumanizing activities like the sales of children for money to pay tax. In a nutshell, the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District did not in any way adhere to the tenets of taxation as propounded by many economic scholars. It also impoverished the society of Kagarko.
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
By 1900, the partition of Africa among the colonizing powers of Europe -France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Dutch, Italy and Portugal was practically completed. Though, the detailed demarcation of the colonial boundaries was still to be achieved, the general outlines were already clear and agreed upon.1 This accomplishment set the pace for a new form of imperial domination whereby, the whole of Nigeria area was subjugated under colonial rule, Zaria was a constituent of it. Thus, it was on this course of events that Zaria Emirate was conquered and Zaria Province and its Districts were created to facilitate the establishment of colonial domination. The Northern region was divided administratively into provinces, and then subdivided into divisions and every division was further divided into districts.2 It was from these administrative Structures that Kagarko District was created. Zaria was made a Province in March 1902 with Captain Abadie as Resident in charge of the provincial administration3.This was in the reign of Emir Kwassau Muhammadu Lawal, son of Yero (1897-1902).4 Kagarko, the area of this study was one of the southern districts that made up Zaria province in 1902.5 This Southern Division comprised of Kajuru, Chawai, Lere, Kagarko, Kachia, Chikun, Zangon Kataf, Kagoro, Maroa, Jaba, Jema‘a, Gwantu, Ayu, Bishini, and Birakatu.6
1 Ajayi J. F & Crowther. M (Ed). History of West Africa Volume 11. Longman London, 1974.p.424.
2 Heussler.R. The British in Northern Nigeria. Longman, Oxford University Press, New York 1968.p.83
3 Smith .M.G Government in Zazzau 1800 – 1900. Oxford ,London. 1960.p.202
4 Green -Kirk. Gazetteers of the Northern Provinces of Zaria. Volume 1. The Hausa Emirates (Bauchi, Sokoto, Zaria, Kano) Frank Cass. London. 1972.p.14
5 Ibid .p.29
6 James .I. Studies in the History, Politics and Cultures of Southern Kaduna People‟s Groups. Landsomas Press Ltd, Jos, 1997. p.18
Kagarko is dominantly inhabited by the Koro speaking people.7 Other ethnic groups in the area include the Gbagyi, Jaba, Hausa and Fulani.
The main focus of this thesis is a study of the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District from 1902-1960 AD. The study intends to unearth the various means by which the colonialists generated revenue in the area, taxation being the major source of revenue for the colonial government. Colonialism was not just for political conquest, but it was basically for economic gains. To achieve this economic gain, the administration of taxation was the key medium used by the colonialists. Thus, colonial taxation involved….
the assessment, levying and collection of a certain sum of money on fundamental aspects of peoples‟ lives. It involved taxing all people of determined age, and what they possessed in economic terms.8
So, British capitalist and imperialist motives were the main reason for the introduction of colonial taxation in Kagarko District. It is in light of this capitalist‘s economic motivation that this research work is aimed at bringing to lime light the type of tax assessment, levying and collection that took place in Kagarko District during the period chosen for this study.
Generally speaking, tax is a compulsory payment levied by the government on individuals or companies to meet the expenditure which is required for public welfare. Taxation has been the main source of revenue for governments for many years in areas where taxation was in place. Taxes were meant to fund valuable services for the public
7 NAK: ZAR PROF FILE 1849 KAGARKO (FRANCIS 1917) .p.9
8 Gwadabe .M.M. “Land, Labour and Taxation in Kano Native Authority: The case of Kumbotso District 1903-1953” (PhD Thesis, unpublished ABU 2008) p.219
but it has also been an historic source of contempt for many citizens who consider it as nothing more than government extortion. So for many people taxation was not beneficial, it was rather extortion and exploitation especially in the colonial era. Theoretically, taxation is guided by the principles of equity, certainty, convenience and neutrality. To buttress this point, Adams Smith in his book the wealth of nations, has it that taxes should be based on the individual‘s ability to pay and that there should be some equivalence between what the individual pays and the benefits he subsequently receives from governmental activities. However, this study contends that these principles were not followed in the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District. This is further substantiated in the subsequent chapters of this research work. More so, the political, economic and social implication of colonial taxation on the people of Kagarko will also constitute the thrust of this work. Therefore, this study intends to unravel the role of colonial taxation in the disruption of the developmental process in the area.
1.1 Statement of Research Problem
The British conquest of Zaria in 1902 led to their incursion into Kagarko area. The British colonialists for proper and easy administration of the area conquered and introduced colonial policies. Among these policies introduced was the colonial tax policy. The colonial tax policy imposed colonial taxation in Kagarko.
The imposition of colonial taxation roped every means of the peoples‘ livelihood into the payment of taxes. The aftermath of this imposition of colonial taxation led to some visible changes in the area, such as forced migrations, cash crop farming, change in political organization and the decline of indigenous industries.
However, these changes rather than bring development in the area, disrupted the economic, social and political development process of Kagarko. The impact of these led to the underdevelopment of the area. Thus, it is these negative changes brought about by colonial taxation that constitute the problem of this study.
1.2 Aims and Objectives of Research Work
The aims and objectives of this research work are to:
- Explain and document the processes involved in the assessment, collection and administration of taxes in Kagarko
- Examine what the people used in paying their taxes (cash or kind) and who were the people taxed? Were they males or females, income earners, farmers and artisans?
- Critically assess the implication of colonial taxation on the people of Kagarko District since taxation was a major source of revenue for the British
- Understand the changes brought about by colonial taxation in the area. Among these is the creation of the colonial economy and its devastating effect on the economy of Kagarko People.
1.3 Scope and Limitation of the Study
Kagarko District is located 110 miles due south of Zaria. The area is approximately 430 square miles.9 Kagarko lies between latitude 5o and latitude 7o east in the extreme end of south-western part of Kaduna state. River Gurara separates Kagarko from Kachia on the east by the present day Jaba local government area, the south by Nassarawa and Federal capital territory Abuja and the west by Niger State which bounds the north. In contemporary times, Kagarko is one of the 23 local government areas of Kaduna State, Nigeria.
In terms of period, 1902-1960 was chosen for this study because 1902 marked the beginnings of colonial rule in Zaria Province area. The period under study also experienced a lot of changes brought about by colonial domination in the area. For example, 1902 was the period when Zaria was conquered and made an administrative Province by the British colonialist. Meanwhile, Kagarko was one of the Districts that was carved out and incorporated into Zaria Province. In addition, there were a number of territorial reorganizations that characterized the period. For instance, in 1904, Kagarko District was transferred out of Zaria Province to Nassarawa Province by Sir Fredrick Lugard the Governor General.10 Again in 1914, Kagarko and Jere were transferred from Nassarawa Province back to Zaria Province. Similarly, Janjalla was transferred back to Zaria, and shared between Kagarko and Jere in 1917.
9Op.Cit. NAK: ZAR PROF FILE 1849.p.6
10 Ibid. p.7
On the other hand, 1960 was chosen as the termination period for this study because this period marked the official end of British colonial domination in Nigeria Kagarko inclusive. The period 1960 also marked a new kind of taxation in the area which is post-colonial taxation.
Furthermore this research is characterized by different types of limitations. This includes time, finance, paucity of written materials on Kagarko and other personal issues which posed a challenge. In terms of time, so many problems encountered in the course of this research work affected the timing. These include obligations at the home front and insecurity challenges in the country. All these contributed in slowing down the pace of the work. On finance, this research work is really capital intensive which was not readily available. This also became a serious challenge for the researcher.
There is also paucity of written materials on Kagarko District, so the researcher had to rely more on archival materials and oral interviews to be able to carry out this research work. This too made the research work quite tedious to carry out with respect to the area of study. It is also important to note that the villages in Kagarko District have a very difficult terrain characterized by un-tarred roads, rivers and streams, thick forest and hills; this made accessibility hard for the researcher especially while travelling around to conduct the oral interviews. So as a result of this inaccessibility, the researcher was unable to tour all the villages in Kagarko.
Another limitation of this study is that most of the people interviewed were not actively involved in the colonial period. This is because some were not born and those born then were still children; so whatever information the researcher got from these
groups was mostly transferred from their parents. However, this is accepted in history since information can be transferred from one generation to another generation. Notwithstanding, there were a few old men and women interviewed who experienced the colonial era.
1.4 Justification of the Study
The colonial era is indisputably the most studied in the historiography of Northern Nigeria area in contemporary times. Consequently, there exist on one hand several studies that highlight British colonial rule on Northern Nigeria area, but Kagarko is yet to benefit from such studies. The neglect is more on the issues of colonial policies such as taxation. It is hoped that this research work will contribute immensely to the historiography of Northern Nigeria with specific reference to Kagarko. It will also contribute to the historiography of colonial taxation which has often been ignored. This research is hopefully a pioneer study of the nature and operation of colonial taxation in Kagarko District.
Colonial taxation as the subject of study was chosen because colonial taxation was the major means of generating revenue for the colonialists. Kagarko was a resource area for this revenue generation, hence cannot be ignored. In other words, this research work intends to uncover how Kagarko was plundered and exploited since colonial taxation was about plunder and exploitation. It will also show how people in the area were forced to sell their food crops, cattle and mats so that they could pay the taxes imposed on them by the colonialist. There was also tax assessment which meant the monetization of the people‘s means of livelihood which includes farming, animal
husbandry, bee-keeping and mat making. All these constitute the thrust of this research work. Consequently, it is an in-depth study of the processes involved in the administration of colonial taxation in Kagarko District and its implication on the economic, social and political life of the people that this research work seeks to carry out.
1.5 Research Methodology
Methodology involves the collection and interpretation of data. It is a means of achieving an aim in a definite way. In this research work both primary and secondary sources were used.
Primary sources are the raw materials used in historical studies and since a historical work is deemed scholarly and reliable according to the extent to which it is based on the basic, raw and imperfect evidence which is the primary source.11 This research work depended more on primary sources because they are first hand information and they provide the most important documented sources for historical reconstruction of this kind. The primary sources used included archival materials from the National Archives and Arewa House all located in Kaduna. In addition, oral interviews were conducted on those who have had a fair taste of the colonial era and the age range was from 70 years and above. However, concession was given to those who are below the age of 70, this is due to the fact that in history information can be transferred and preserved from one generation to another generation.
11 Marwick A. The Nature of History. Macmillan Press, London. 1970.p.137
The second category of sources used was the secondary source. These are basically second –hand information of the past. The secondary sources used included books, unpublished theses, articles and journals. The use of some very important libraries also provided the needed materials for this research work; these libraries used were the Kashim Ibrahim Library (KIL) and the Northern History Research Scheme (NHRS), Department of History all of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. The use of digital materials also added value to this study because it is unlimited; one can access digital materials easily and quickly which gives the researcher a wider range of accessing works written by other scholars on the same topic.
1.6 Theoretical Framework
A study of this type which is based on colonialism, adopted the underdevelopment and dependency theory. The theory of underdevelopment explains underdevelopment as neither the opposite nor the absence of development. This is so because every society had a course to experience a certain level of social progress in the process of its social evolution.12 Underdevelopment is a process in which a country is not sufficiently developed; and this status of insufficient development was acquired under certain historical conditions, these historical conditions include centuries of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.13 The adherents of this theory see underdevelopment as synonymous with exploitation and plunder of one country by another. While the dependency theory addresses the problems of poverty and economic underdevelopment throughout the world. The central argument of the dependency theory is that socio-
12 Alanana, O .Sociology of Development. An Introduction. Kaduna. 2006.p.5
economic dependency (neo-colonialism) generates underdevelopment, which is the development of underdevelopment.14 Dependency theorists‘ like Andre Gunder Frank and Walter Rodney, argued that dependence upon foreign capital, technology and expertise impedes economic development in developing countries. As noted by Andre Gunder Frank, the now- developed countries were never underdeveloped, though they may have been undeveloped.15 This is quite instructive, because this explains the fact that, if the present developed countries were at a point undeveloped, this invariably means that the so–called underdeveloped countries would have also been among the developed countries of the world. To buttress this point, Frank reiterated that
…contemporary underdevelopment is in large part the historical product of past and continuing economic and other relations between the satellite underdeveloped and the now-developed metropolitan countries;16 these relations are an essential part of the structure and development of the capitalist systems on a world scale as a whole.17
By and large underdevelopment is a product of capitalist relations between the colonizer and the colonized. In fact, Walter Rodney has it that:
All the countries named as underdeveloped in the world are exploited by others; and the underdevelopment with which the world is pre-occupied is a product of capitalist, imperialist and colonialist exploitation.18
14 Frank.A.G. ―The Development of Underdevelopment,‖ in James D. Cockcroft, Andre Gunder Frank, and Dale Johnson, (eds.), Dependence and Underdevelopment, Garden City, New York: Anchor Books.1972. p.29
18 Rodney, W. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Abuja : Panaf Publishers,2009.p.16
This shows that colonial taxation basically represented a significant tool for the operation, regulation and development of capitalism in the colonies of Britain.19
On the whole, the central thesis of this theory is the linking of rural poverty and underdevelopment to historical forces of world capitalism and surplus extraction.20 Again it is the dependency and underdevelopment theory that explains colonialism as what distorted the Nigerian economy. In fact, underdevelopment in this sense is not an original state of backwardness which all societies have experienced but something which emerges (the development of underdevelopment) as a result of colonialism and other forms of imperialist domination.21 Colonial taxation was a means of plunder and exploitation of the colonized, thus this theory was chosen because it better explains this kind of lopsided economic relations between Nigeria and the British colonialist.
1.7 Literature Review
There are no specific literatures written on colonial taxation in Kagarko District. However, there are related works on this topic and Northern Nigeria area as a whole. Among the literature reviewed include the theses of M. M. Tukur, M.M. Gwadabe and Kazah Toure. Other works reviewed were books written by Yusuf Turaki and Ibrahim James. These works gave me a good footing in writing this research work.
19 Mile T. J. ―A Political Economy of Land among the Southern TIV C.1900-1960‖ (M. A. Thesis, A.B.U, Zaria) 1991.p.148
21 Beckman B. & Andrea G. (1985). The Wheat Trap. Bread and Underdevelopment in Nigeria. The Bath Press, Avon. USA.p.143
In the PhD thesis of M.M Tukur “the imposition of British colonial domination on the Sokoto Caliphate, Borno and neighboring states: 1897 -1914. A reiteration of colonial sources”, establishes that British colonial rule while consolidating their administrative and judicial control over the emirates, the British imposed a large number of taxes on the peoples of these emirates.22 He was of the view that taxation was introduced alongside the imposition of British colonial domination in the emirates of Northern Nigeria area. These taxes were in the form of the Kurdin Kasa, the Jangali, customs duties, caravan tolls, hawkers‘ licenses and native liquor licenses and Kurdin Su. The justification for the collection of taxes on the people as he identified among several other reasons, was that the British wanted ―the prosperity of the country‖. 23 Of course, this was a gimmick employed by the colonialists to ensure that the people paid tax. Colonialism meant plunder and exploitation, so if one is to accept this claim by the colonialists as highlighted by Tukur, the question to ask then, is that how did the people in Kagarko District benefit from the taxes they paid? He also argued that, the imposition of British colonial taxation on the Emirates of Northern Nigeria area was also a way of subordinating the people to colonial domination. The conclusion of his thesis is that ―the taxes imposed by the British, far from being fewer, more rational and lighter than the pre- colonial taxes as was claimed by the British , were in fact more in number and heavier in incidence than the pre-colonial taxes. He concluded that many of these taxes were baseless and arbitrary, some of them having as their primary purpose not the provision of revenue to the colonial administration and native authority, but the creation of a colonial
22 Tukur, M.M.‖ The imposition of British colonial Domination on the Sokoto Caliphate,
Borno and Neighboring States: 1897-1914. A Reiteration of colonial sources.‖ (PhD Thesis) 1979.p.531
economy devoid of an indigenous industrial base and geared towards the production and export of unprocessed raw materials.24 From this work, it can be deduced that the sole aim of colonial taxation, was for the creation of a colonial economy which was needful for the success of colonial rule in the British colonies. So the imposition of taxation on the people was a way of assuring the colonialists that the colonized have surrendered to colonial subjugation.
To further reiterate the position of Tukur is the PhD thesis of M.M. Gwadabe
―land, labour and taxation in Kano native authority: the case of Kumbotso District 1903- 1953‖. In this work,
“Taxation played a momentous role in the establishment and consolidation of the colonial economy and society…, the quest for taxation was not only economic but socio- political.25
This means that colonial taxation was a way of subjugating the people economically, politically and socially. It connotes the desire to fashion out ways and means of subjecting the conquered people into an unquestionable submission, and not just the payment of taxes.26 This work is an affirmation of the thesis of M. M. Tukur which clearly shows that colonial taxation had an aim, which was not for the benefit of the tax payer but for the benefit of the colonial government in Northern Nigeria area. Though their theses were not concerned with Kagarko District nevertheless, the works have clearly defined what colonial taxation represented. The above theses provide good reference materials for a research work of this kind since British colonial taxation had similar modes of operation in her colonies. Never the less, apart from just creating a
24 Ibid. p.627
25 Op.cit. Gwadabe, M.M. p.223
colonial economy by the colonialists as argued by both Tukur and Gwadabe, colonial taxation was a tool for exploitation and plunder of the colonized.
On the other hand, Lugard overwhelmed by his Eurocentric view added that…
taxation was a replacement for extortion, that it was unorganized and primitive communities or societies that did not pay taxes, the district officer comes as a herald of a just and equitable tax to replace extortion.27
This assertion by Lugard was far from being the reality because the taxes imposed by the British, far from being fewer, more rational and lighter were in fact more in number and heavier in incidence and many of them were baseless and arbitrary.28 Colonial taxation was basically exploitative it was a more organized way of extortion. In fact, Kazah Toure puts it thus:
“Colonial taxation was more exploitative of the peasants, artisans, workers and the poor….”29
These peasants, artisans and others formed the mainstay of the pre-colonial economy, but colonialism disrupted the developmental process of the peoples‘ economic life. In fact, Toure traced the roots of nationalists‘ movements in Zaria Province, particularly the Southern parts as an opposition to colonial taxation. However, Lugard tried to justify colonial taxation by saying that:
“among unorganized communities, not previously subject to tax, where native rulers cannot be said to exist, the tax affords a means of creating and enforcing native authority, of curbing lawlessness, and assisting in tribal evolution, and hence it becomes a moral benefit, and is justified by the immunity from slave -raids which the people now enjoy”.30
27Lugard, F. D. Dual Mandate in Tropical Africa, London 1923. p.233
28 Op.Cit Tukur, M. M. p.531
29 Kazah T. ―The Development of Nationalist Movement in Zaria Province 1902- 1960‖ (M.A. Thesis, A.B.U. Zaria) 1991.p.191
But, the question to ask is who started the slave-raids and trade which lasted for centuries? This was the legacy which the Europeans left back in Africa during the trans- Atlantic slave trade. Mean while, it is a fallacy to say that it was only unorganized and lawless communities who did not pay taxes. There was no community or society that lived in abject lawlessness and chaos; they often had administrative structures put in place according to the customs and traditions of a people to ensure law and order. This is already highlighted in chapter two of this study. Meanwhile, the British colonialist only sought a way to justify the extortion and exploitation of the resources of the colony through taxation. By this, the colonized were faced with the compulsory payment of often specified amounts-reviewed from time-to-time in colonial currency as levied by the British.31 To the British, taxation was a favorite technique used by the Europeans:
for the time must come, as it has come to every community in the world, when some form of direct tax for revenue purpose must be imposed.32
As a result, money taxes were introduced on numerous items like cattle, land, houses and the people themselves. Money to pay taxes was got by growing cash-crops or working on the European farms or in their mines.33
In addition to the literature reviewed was the book written by Yusuf Turaki “The British colonial legacy in Northern Nigeria: A social Ethical Analysis of the colonial and post-colonial society and politics in Nigeria. He extensively wrote on the Southern parts of Zaria Province. In this work, Turaki asserted that colonial economic and political
31 Kazah Toure, Op. Cit, p.191
interests necessitated the introduction of taxation.34 This of course cannot be overemphasized. But, far more than that, taxation was basically a means of plunder and exploitation of the Africans by the colonialists in order to enrich their own economy. Furthermore, he revealed that in situations where Africans failed or resented to pay tax, physical coercion, backed up by legal sanctions was used on the people:
…. Taxation as a new encroachment was actively resisted but was successfully enforced through the use of armed forces.35
To this end, it can be agreed that the payment of colonial taxes was by force. He also made it clear that chiefs or tax collectors were enforced upon the people as a bureaucratic means of handling taxation.36 This work is closely related to the area of this study though not specifically on Kagarko. Turaki also exposed the coercion with which the Southern Division of Zaria Province was made to pay tax. His work also revealed that taxation was quite strange in the Southern Division of Zaria Province.
Furthermore, the PhD Thesis of Abdulkadir Adamu, “The food economy in colonial Nigeria: A study of food production and distribution in Zaria Metropolis C.1902-1960.” He held the view that colonial taxation, expansion of cash crop production and the evolution of money economy which were features of the colonial economy, increased the level of debts in the society; though debt was a common occurrence in the pre-colonial period but it never assumed the dimension of
34 Turaki. Y. The British Colonial Legacy in Northern Nigeria: A social Ethical Analysis
Of Colonial and Post-Colonial Society and Politics in Nigeria. Jos Challenge Press, 1993.p.62
encompassing a large percent of the population such that it threatened the well-being of communities.37 This implies that colonial taxation brought a total change in the peoples‘ way of life, a change that could be termed as negative. However, for Lugard, the dual mandate in British tropical Africa:
―was that Europe is in Africa for the mutual benefit of her own industrial classes and of the native races in their progress to a higher plane; that the benefit can be made reciprocal and that it is the aim and desire of civilized administration to fulfill this dual mandate.38
But the position of the black Guyanese historian, Walter Rodney debunked this claim by Lugard thus:
“Colonialism had only one hand – it was a one-armed bandit.”39
He made it emphatically clear that the main purpose of colonial taxation system was to provide requisite funds for administering the colony as a field of exploitation.40 The European colonizers ensured that Africans paid for the upkeep of the governors and police who oppressed them and served as watchdogs for private capitalists.41 This in essence was the purpose of colonial taxation in the colonial era. In Conclusion, Claude in his book, Political Economy of Africa observed that…
A non-monetized economy cannot really be integrated into a capitalist economy. The monetization of a pre-capitalist economy is necessary for its integration into a capitalist
37Abdulkadir Adamu. ―The Food Economy in Colonial Nigeria: A Study of Food Production and Distribution in Zaria Metropolis C.1902-1960.‖ (PhD Thesis ABU Zaria).p.100
38 Dike, O.K. 100 Years of British Rule in Nigeria 1851-1951.Federal Information Service, Lagos, Nigeria.1956. p.31
39Op. Cit. Rodney, W. p.247
41 Op. Cit. Turaki .Y.
economy. How then did colonialism monetize African economies?
To answer this question, Claude said…
that African economies were monetized by imposing taxes and insisting on the payment of taxes with European currency.42
This was the basis of colonialism; it was not just political dominance but a good grasp of the economy to ensure the active participation of the African economies in the colonial economy. In other words colonial taxation led to the monetization of the Nigerian economy which made Nigeria a part of the colonial economy and part of the global capitalist conglomerate or corporation.
On the whole, the reviewed works have helped me to see colonial taxation as a systemic way of the imposition of colonial domination for the purpose of plunder and exploitation and it was also a means of initiating the colonized into the colonial economy. Taxation was not meant to ameliorate the ‗hardship‘ of the people rather it increased the burden on the colonized. And as such Africa cannot be said to be the white man‘s burden, but the reverse was the case. However, though these works reviewed were very insightful, the writers did not actually expatiate on the dependency and underdevelopment colonial taxation turned Nigeria‘s indigenous economy into during and after the colonial era.
42 Ake, C. A Political Economy of Africa. Longman, London. 2002.p.32
1.8 Conceptual Clarification
An attempt has been made in this research work to understand the concept of taxation. According to Dr Dalton, a tax is a compulsory contribution imposed by a public authority, irrespective of the exact amount of service rendered to the tax payer in return‖.43 While professor Seligman has it that a tax is ―a compulsory contribution from a person to the Government to defray the expenses incurred in the common interest of all, without reference to special benefits conferred.‖44 The view held by these scholars point to the fact that taxation is a compulsory levy by the government of any state or society on its citizens for the day to day affairs of the people. These scholars also point to the fact that taxation has three characteristics:
First, it is a compulsory contribution imposed by the government on the people residing in the country. Since it is a compulsory payment, a person who refuses to pay a tax is liable to punishment. But a tax is to be paid only by those who come under its jurisdiction. 45 Secondly, a tax is a payment made by tax payers which is used by the government for the benefit of all citizens. The state uses the revenues collected from taxes for providing basic amenities such as hospitals, schools and public utility services which benefit all people. 46 Thirdly, a tax is not levied in return for any specific service rendered by the government to the taxpayer. An individual cannot ask for any special benefit from the state in return for the tax paid. It implies that the taxpayer cannot claim something equivalent to the tax paid from the government.47
43 Jhingan M.L. Principles of Economics. Vrinda Publications Limited. Delhi 2006. p.883
From all of these, taxation generally is an obligation on every citizen to their country. But, it is also the responsibility of the government that collects taxes from its citizens to ensure that the basic needs of the citizens are provided. Moreover, this should not make the government irresponsible to the needs of the tax payers. These needs include the provision of schools, hospitals, roads, electricity and other social services. However, in a situation whereby the government fails to cater for these basic needs of its citizens, there is bound to be anarchy in such a state or society.
In addition to all these, a good tax system is supposed to be characterized thus: (i) Equity – every person should be taxed according to his ability. I.e. The rich should pay more and the poor less so that taxes should be progressive in nature.48(2) Certainty – the time of payment, the manner of payment, the quantity to be paid, ought all to be clear and plain to the contributor and to every other person. The tax a person is supposed to pay should not be arbitrary so that the taxpayer is not left at the whims of the tax officials.49 (3)Convenience – the time and mode of payment of the tax should be fixed so that it is not inconvenient for the taxpayer.50 (4)Economical – the cost of collection of taxes should be small in proportion to the revenue from them.51 (5)Productive – the tax system should bring sufficiency in revenue to the exchequer.52(6)Elastic – so that the tax revenue may be increased or decreased according to the requirement of the state.53(7)Simple – a
good tax system should be easy to understand and administer.54 So taxation generally implies a compulsory levy on the governed by the government.
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