Tax obligation and state legitimacy: A critique of the disconnect between state demands and people’s desiderata

Author: Kareem Adedokun

ISSN: 2521-2575
Affiliations: Associate Professor, Department of Business and Private Law, Kwara State University, Malete, Kwara, Nigeria
Source: Journal of Corporate and Commercial Law & Practice, Volume 7 Issue 1, 2021, p. 63 – 79


The payment of taxes is one of the obligations recognised under any civil rule system. This informs why Nigeria, in its practice of constitutional democracy, emphasises prompt payment of tax as a basic duty of citizens to foster development, economic growth, and building. There is a fiscal contract through which citizens accept and comply with taxes in exchange for government’s effective services, the rule of law and accountability. It is a mutually beneficial process whereby citizens will receive improved governance while the government receives larger, more predictable, and more easily collected tax revenues. However, there is an obvious reversal of the fundamental obligations of the government, resulting in the sharp contrast between the state demands and people’s needs. This work, using doctrinal and survey sampling methods, critically examines the accountability and responsiveness of the government in its fiscal contract with the people, by embarking on a review of the correlation between the government’s obligations of good governance and the citizens’ civic duties of prompt payment of taxes. The review finds that the Nigerian tax system does not have a positive effect on nation-building as there is an apparent infrastructural deficit that impugns the taxpayers’ and investors’ confidence in the integrity of the tax system. Besides, there is no state machinery for an effective inclusive tax dialogue. Consequently, the initiation of the process of constructive engagements with the government is suggested to achieve an inclusive tax bargain which it is hoped will usher in a regime of responsive governance for sustainable development.