By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami, has urged the Kano business community and other taxpayers in the country to continue to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies the Service has deployed recently to pay their taxes as and when due.
Nami also charged members of staff of the FIRS to redouble their efforts in generating tax revenue for the country by expanding the national tax net to include those still outside it.
In a statement by Director of Communications and Liaison Department Dr Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad on Wednesday, Nami gave the admonitions at a stakeholder meeting involving the Management and Staff of the FIRS and the Kano Business Community.
According to him, “presently, Nigeria’s economy relies on non-oil revenues to discharge its statutory responsibility of paying salaries and providing social amenities to the citizenry. However, despite the prospect which tax revenue holds for the country, the ‘’Tax to GDP’’ ratio for Nigeria is about 6% compared to Egypt at 15%, Ghana and Kenya at 17%, South Africa at 28%. This is a very sad reality that is unacceptable for a country that has the largest economy in Africa.”
Nami continued: “To overcome this challenge, we must recognise and adapt to the changing pattern of the business environment where technology is the driver of business operations. For many years, our revenue generation architecture had been largely manual with limited use of technology. Adopting technology in tax administration is crucial in improving domestic revenue mobilization given dwindling oil prices to avoid falling into a debt crisis. It is against this backdrop that the TaxProMax became the channel for filing Naira-denominated tax returns effective from 7th June 2021.”
The FIRS boss further explained: “The TaxProMax enables seamless registration, filing, payment of taxes and automatic credit of withholding tax as well as other credits to the Taxpayer’s accounts among other features. The TaxProMax platform also provides a single view to Taxpayers for all transactions with the Service.
“It will interest you to know that the Service collected over N650 billion in June 2021. This feat was achieved as a result of the efficiency and effectiveness of the TaxProMax Solution.”
Another groundbreaking development that Nami pointed out which occurred under his administration is the introduction of the court-backed “FIRS Practice Direction”. According to Nami, “this is another innovation introduced to aid revenue generation by cutting down on needless litigation which slows down revenue collection.”
He listed the advantages which the FIRS Practice Direction conferred on tax revenue generation thus: “Cases of FIRS will be given accelerated hearing and priority in the Federal High Court; it enables the FIRS to obtain Order of the Court for forfeiture of immovable property of taxpayers, freezing of bank accounts, access to books, servers, billing systems etc; it fast-tracks the recovery of tax debts by civil action; it increases tax compliance, and increases the collection of revenue to the Government.”
Nami also disclosed that the National Tax Policy Implementation Document had prioritised the assessment and collection of indirect taxes in Nigeria as they are difficult to dodge, easy to pay and easy to administer. He, therefore, charges members of staff at the FIRS to put the document to good use in the tax collection processes.
The Executive Chairman listed challenges of tax collection in the country to include the fact that “when companies collect taxes as an agent of collection, Value-Added Tax (VAT) for instance, they do not remit as and when due. In some cases, they do not remit it at all.”
He, therefore, appealed to defaulting corporate organisations to turn a new leaf by remitting VAT and other taxes as and when due, stressing that the consequences of not doing so under extant tax laws in the country are severe, which corporate executives would not wish to experience.