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  • Writer's pictureEnyenaweh Research

Gender Bias and Taxation in Nigeria

Updated: Jun 21

Gender bias in taxation refers to the unequal treatment of women and men in the tax system, which can result in differential impacts on their economic wellbeing and opportunities. While Nigeria does not have explicit gender-based tax policies, some factors within the tax system can contribute to gender bias.

Here are some key points regarding gender bias in taxation in Nigeria:

1. Informal Sector: Women in Nigeria are more likely to be engaged in the informal sector, which often operates outside the formal tax system. As a result, they may face limited access to social protection and public services funded through taxation, further exacerbating gender inequalities.

2. Value-Added Tax (VAT): VAT is an indirect tax applied uniformly regardless of income level. Since women tend to spend more of their income on essential goods and services, they may bear a higher burden of VAT than men. This regressive nature of VAT can disproportionately affect low-income women and exacerbate gender-based economic disparities.

3. Gendered Labor Market: Gender disparities in the labor market can also indirectly contribute to gender bias in taxation. Women often face wage gaps and are more likely to be employed in low-paying sectors or informal jobs. Lower incomes and economic vulnerability can limit their ability to fulfill tax obligations and hinder their access to benefits provided through taxation.

4. Property Taxes: Property taxes are an essential revenue source for local governments in Nigeria. However, women's ownership and control of property, especially land, are often limited due to discriminatory laws, cultural norms, and inheritance practices. This can result in women having limited exposure to property tax obligations and also limits their ability to benefit from tax-related incentives or deductions.

Addressing gender bias in taxation in Nigeria requires a comprehensive approach that tackles underlying gender inequalities and ensures that the tax system promotes gender equality.

Here are a few potential strategies:

1. Gender-Responsive Tax Policies: Developing tax policies considering the differential impact on women and men is crucial. This includes assessing the potential gender implications of tax measures and ensuring that they do not disproportionately burden women. It may involve targeted exemptions, deductions, or incentives that promote gender equality and women's economic empowerment.

2. Formalization of the Informal Sector: Encouraging the formalization of the informal sector can help improve tax compliance and expand the tax base. This should be accompanied by supportive measures that consider women's specific challenges in the informal economy and facilitate their transition to formal employment.

3. Gender Analysis of Tax Data: Conducting gender-disaggregated data collection and analysis within the tax system can provide valuable insights into the differential impacts of taxation on women and men. This data can inform evidence-based policymaking and help identify areas where gender bias may exist, leading to more targeted interventions.

4. Gender Mainstreaming in Tax Administration: Integrating a gender perspective into tax administration can help address biases and barriers that hinder women's engagement with the tax system. This includes gender-sensitive taxpayer education, training for tax officials on gender equality, and ensuring equal treatment and opportunities for women in tax compliance and enforcement.

5. Collaboration and Advocacy: Civil society organizations, women's rights groups, and gender equality advocates can play a crucial role in raising awareness about gender bias in taxation, advocating for policy reforms, and holding the government accountable for promoting gender equality and equity in the tax system.

By addressing gender bias in taxation, Nigeria can create a more equitable and inclusive tax system that supports women's economic empowerment and contributes to sustainable development.

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