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Black Tax: Young Nigerians Share Their Unique Experiences

Black tax — money put aside to support immediate and extended family — is the roadblock stopping many young, hardworking Nigerians from living the soft life and building generational wealth. 

5 Nigerians share their experience with black tax and how they manage the pressure. 

“I used to give 100% of my income to my family.” — Victoria*, 30 (earns ₦370,000, pays ₦270,000 in black tax)

I don’t see black tax as stress. Instead, I see it as a way to improve the lives of my loved ones and also express gratitude. This is why I work 4 jobs even though no one expressly bills me. 

I’d be lying if I said this doesn’t cause financial distress, though. For instance, there was a time I used to give 100% of my income to my family. As a result, I couldn’t build wealth. PiggyVest, however, changed my approach. I now autosave 40% of my income every month. I also invest in real estate, cryptocurrency and stocks.

“I’ve learnt to cut entitled family members off.” — John*, 24 (earns ₦450,000, pays ₦150,000 in black tax)

My black tax experience dates back to when I started earning in 2017. Ever since, my family members bill me each time they perceive I’ve been paid salary or have some extra cash.

Initially, this pressure trapped me in the rat race, as I was constantly taking more jobs than I could handle so that I could be seen as responsible. Not anymore. I’ve learned to set boundaries, stay secretive about my income and cut entitled family members off when necessary. 

“I shared my scholarship money with my family.” — Dammy*, 25 (earns ₦200,000, pays ₦80,000 in black tax)

As the first male child, the responsibility of black tax came naturally. I’ve always felt like I owe my family members, particularly my parents. I’ve had this mentality even before I started working. Even while I was an undergraduate, I shared my scholarship money with my family. 

But while I love giving back, it takes a toll on my finances. I’m usually unable to save enough for investments, and I barely have an emergency fund. Thankfully, I’m learning to navigate my finances better, as I now adopt strict budgeting. 

“I remind my family members that I’m still a young man.” — Hassan*, 21 (earns ₦80,000, pays ₦30,000 in black tax)

Being the first child in a low-income family, I’m expected to shoulder some responsibilities. Surprisingly, my black tax experience isn’t entirely burdensome; my mom doesn’t pressure me. Sometimes, she even supports me. 

I also protect myself by reminding my other family members that I’m still a young man. In all, I wish I didn’t have to send money home; it would have been a lot easier to fund my baby boy lifestyle. 

“I’ve stopped disclosing my real income.” — Tajudeen*, 22 (earns ₦1,000,000, pays ₦600,000 in black tax)

My black tax experience has been horrific. It started during COVID. I had just started freelance writing to support myself because the pandemic ruined my family’s finances. So there was no way I could avoid taking care of the expenses at home.

This cycle persists till date, making me almost always broke despite earning six figures monthly. I’m also torn between helping my family and focusing on my own aspirations. In the meantime, I’ve stopped disclosing my real income to make my life easier. 

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