The Bauchi State government is planning to register and tax all religious bodies. Is this a good thing?
Bauchi State government has announced that all religious organisations will soon be registered and taxed.
This announcement was made by the Commissioner for Religious Affairs and Community Relations, Baba Maduguwhile speaking on the achievements of the ministry since 2015.
According to him, the state is currently gathering the data for all churches and mosques in the state for political and security reasons, adding that once this is finished, tax imposition would begin.
He said, “The ministry intends to embark on the registration of worship places and taxing beneficiary organisations who benefit from the services of the government.
“It also intends to undertake the survey of all places of worships (mosques and churches) throughout the state, including their addresses and contacts for security and political reasons.
“The ministry intends to solicit the centralisation of all religious activities so as to achieve maximum service delivery.”
This has sparked a serious conversation as most people wonder why the government would even think of taxing religious organisations.
I asked my colleagues for their opinions and here is what they had to say.
One person said she disagreed with the Bauchi state government’s decision to tax religious organisations.
Her words, “I have always assumed that churches are charity organisations. That is how I think of them. Thus, I feel they should be exempted.”
Another said, “I don’t think it’s a good plan because most mosques don’t make as much as churches.” He added that he thinks that churches that have rich pastors, who own private jets, huge cars and houses, should absolutely pay their taxes.
Speaking with others, most people agreed that religious bodies should be left alone since they are considered as charity organisations.
In 2014, the Acting Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Alhaji Kabir Mashi, shed some light on this controversial matter.
Speaking at an event, where he was represented by the Coordinating Director of Modernisation, Mr. Osy Chuke, he said that religious bodies are only expected to pay tax when they are involved in activities that yielded profit.
He said, “Nigerian tax laws do not necessarily exempt NGOs from paying taxes. Rather they recognise NGOs as basically no-for-profit entities, which are therefore exempted from paying Income Tax. Where, however, an NGO engages in activities from which it derives profits, then it will be required to pay taxes on such profits, like any other profit-making entity.
What do you think about Bauchi’s decision to tax religious bodies?
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