Thinking about the concept of black tax, I don’t think there would be an average family in Nigeria that won’t have that one person that pays black tax. It is so because we are all predominantly poor. Few families have escaped the cycle of dependence on their children as an insurance policy for not only old age but also the survival of the entire family.
Black tax is the financial support that a member of the family is expected to pay to the extended family once they start earning income.
My maternal grandfather used to pray like “I will eat the food my children will give me but may I never have to look up to my children before I eat”. My mother prays that as well. And that is definitely my prayer as well.
Black tax can be psychologically pleasing and draining at the same time. There are occasions when the family might have had to sacrifice a lot to see one child through school with the goal that when such is done, they will be able to take care of others. But such arrangements almost always come off as tiring, as the young professional is tasked with responsibilities often too much for them to bear. Here are 8 examples of that in varying versions.
I must say that Black tax is no evil, the condition that subjects us to it is. And the fact that those conditions made them a necessity. As I mentioned from the beginning, we are predominantly poor as a people and only a few families have crossed the chasm of compulsory black tax."I must say that Black tax is no evil, the condition that subjects us to it is. And the fact that those conditions made them a necessity. But you can learn how to handle it here" Click To Tweet
Here are the 5 ways I used in reducing my black tax
Compared to the 8 stories in my referenced article, I think I am lucky. Remember my mum’s prayer. Yes, it has its influence. As much as possible no dependency on her children is what she prays for. However, just like a lot of us, I still can’t escape it but I am given the ability to determine what I am capable of. This is of course also possible because Mama still has a good business that is giving her good income.
- No one knows how much I earn – this is probably the only insurance that is available to everyone. I said available to everyone because you can learn to keep your mouth shut and not disclose. Doing so gives you the leverage to determine how much can be spared for black tax and what can’t be allowed.
- I am always proactive to pay the tax – being proactive to pay the tax absorbs me from the need to pay more than I’ve volunteered to pay in the first place. Yes, demands may come but when you put forward the defence that you are doing a lot already, (hopefully) no one will pressure you to do more. And remember to do all within your power to indeed help. Family is family and they might have sacrificed their comfort as well to get you to where you are.
- My income is always calculated as net of investment – this is an important point especially for those who can’t but have to disclose how much they earn. Only disclose how much you earn as a net of what you’ve decided to save and invest. That way, even if you have to cough out everything in your account, you will know you have created security for yourself as well. I had a colleague who gave a standing order at his place of work that they should only pay him 50% of his monthly income and all else should be kept for him. That’s it. So black or white tax, he couldn’t pay beyond what he earns and since he has to survive as well, it means he can’t give out all the 50% that he gets.
- I am always upfront about what I’m not capable of – I don’t have a flashy lifestyle that will suggest maybe I have some millions saved somewhere that is funding my lifestyle. So when demands come, I can comfortably say this is what I am capable of and that is beyond me. You could do so as well. The problem comes when you think you don’t have a responsibility to them, you actually do, I know I do. My mama had to go through a lot to educate me. So I take that responsibility seriously and it has helped.
- Be someone of your word – I have reserved this to the last because you only resort to this option if all others are not working. It’s simple but difficult to implement. You say no and stand by the no. Period! Thank goodness, I’ve not had to use this tactic before.
I’ve said it before and will say again that the black tax in itself is not evil. Some people sacrificed to get you to where you are in the first place and the least you can do is to recognize that. Of course, we have instances where no one was there for you, if that’s your case, it only makes the 5 solutions above easier for you to implement.
However, what you should not allow is to let the cycle of dependence on black tax for survival continue with you. You need to make up your mind that it will end with you and pray the kind of prayer that my grandpa used to pray: “I will eat the food my children will give me but may I never have to look up to my children before I eat”.
For that to happen, you must take steps from those highlighted above to protect yourself. You must ensure that you don’t eat with your 10 fingers in the name of black tax or any other thing. You owe it to your children not to have a reason to depend on them for survival. You’ve seen how uncomfortable it can be, so work as much as you need to break that cycle.