From the inception of modern taxation in Nigeria in the first decade of the 20th century the problem of poor tax administration has been the cankerworms that militate against an optimum revenue generation which affect negatively the government ability to render essential services to the citizenry. The problem of the attitude of most tax payers in Nigeria is negative. Most of the people, feel that tax imposed on them by the government is a means to exploit their limited resources for their personal use. With this impression, they see no reason why they should comply in paying such taxes. This work is intended to cover the general background of income tax administration in Nigeria. The scope will be base on methods of assessment to personal income tax and collection by the avoidable administrative machineries. The work is limited by the non-doctrinal method of research that would have involved the conduct of interviews and the administration of questioners. Indeed, because of lack of time, the researcher was unable to do that. This study assesses the income tax enforcement and compliance efforts under the Nigerian Income tax laws. In assessing these penal provisions, the weaknesses of our taxing provisions shall be examined analysed and processed with a view to making laudable suggestions and recommendations that will improve revenue generation in Nigeria. The research project concludes that the tax authorities and the government should educate the taxpayers on their civic obligation to pay their taxes because, voluntary tax compliance by the tax payers is hardly possible under a condition in which the public have no confidence in the revenue officials. The importance of tax and the issue of tax as a source of government revenue must be pointed out to both the government and the governed should be talked about also. Hence, all hands must be on deck for the country to achieve great percentage of tax compliance from the taxpayers.

• Background to the study
Taxation may be defined as the demand by the government of a country on its citizens for a compulsory payment of part of their wealth. The aim of taxation is to raise revenue to finance government expenditure to achieve economic development and to distribute income on a socially acceptable basis. Hence, the first need of a modern government is revenue which is indeed the breath of its nostrils1. Expenditure has shown that connection is not a simple task, especially in developing countries like Nigeria where its economics, social and political structure is so complicated. Tax has to be collected with caution as voluntary compliance is lacking. Income tax and every other form of taxation have not being readily accepted and even where it is accepted, it is not favoured. Members of the public are usually touchy about forms, notice and letters tax authorities. The result is an attempt to create or avoid taxes as much as possible, causing a low rate of the compliance.

It is necessary at this juncture to distinguish between: ―tax evasion‖ and ―tax avoidance‖, either of which could be the result of non compliance with payment of ― tax evasion is usually defined to mean the failure to pay one‘s tax or the reduction of one‘s tax liability through illegal or fraudulent return or failure to make a return or even failure to pay on time. Evasion is not only wrong, but also it involves breach of tax laws. Ola C.S, opined that:

Tax avoidance is the minimization of tax liability by arranging one‘s affair as to take advantage of provision in the tax law.2In this way the tax payer pay less than otherwise would have been payable.

Income tax is wholly the creature of statute. That is to say, there is no common law of taxation. No principles of law are applicable other than those principles, which are found in the taxing Acts themselves according to their true meaning and effect. In any tax case, it is consequently necessary for the court or tax commissioners to determine the true meaning and effect of the particular statutory provisions in question. The actual problem in connection with tax administration is that of enforcing tax payment. It is against this background that the Personal Income Tax Act of 1993 (as amended) as well as Companies Income Tax Act of 1990 (as amended) made penal provisions against any violations of their provisions. These are categorized into civil and criminal offences and penalties.

The Personal Income Tax Act3, (P.I.T.A) for instance, lays down income tax offences and penalties for their breach, such as legal proceedings, distraint of property, public auction of seized properties and monetary penalties for various income tax offences.4 Likewise, part XXI of Companies Income Tax Act (C.I.T.A) 1990, (as amended) listed various offences and penalties against any tax defaulter such as failure to comply with the provisions of C.I.T.A or rules, failure to comply with notices or summons, failure to answer questions on tax matters, failure to furnish returns, statement, information or keep correct records of income.

Preliminary examination of these penal provisions reveal their ineffectiveness to check the activities of tax defaulters. This study is to examine and analyse the penal provisions with a view to suggest better methods of making effective penal provisions in our tax statutes.

The present penalty provisions do overlap and are in some places mutually inconsistent especially in terms of the severity of the penalties and are thus defective and ineffective to deal with current economic trends in our fiscal policies. This calls for thorough review and re- arrangement of the penalty provisions on a more adequate and rationale basis.

Additionally, the attitude of the tax officials, the law makers and the courts leaves much to be desired as a result of their lukewarm behaviour towards tax offences. This adversely affects income tax compliance efforts.6 The courts responses are usually slow and are passive in taking decisions.7 Thus, even though the law provides sanctions against those defaulters, these provisions are hardly used by the tax officials.8

Enforcement of income tax in Nigeria; which is the aim of this research can be well understood if considered into parts: Firstly, with regards to the tax payer and secondly, with regards to the Nigerian tax administration system.

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