The history of modern taxation in Nigeria is traceable to the reforms initiated in the first decade of 20th century in northern Nigeria by High Commissioner ofthe then Northern Protectorate, Sir Fredrick Lugard issued the stamp dutiesproclamation in 1903 and followed it with the Native Revenue Proclamation in1906. The Native Revenue Proclamation 1906 systematized all pre-colonialtaxes that existed in Northern Nigeria by defining taxable rates, procedures forassessment and collection as well penalties for default. This made away withthe arbitrariness that was the case in the pre-colonial era and introduced thefour certainties essential in modern tax practice: what to pay, where and whoto pay.

Following the amalgamation of Northern and southern Protectorates in 1914, the colonial Government re-issued the Native Revenue Ordinance 1917, but the application was restricted to the Northern territories in 1918 and 1927 respectively to enable the levying of income in those regions.

Another major reform took place in 1943 when the Nigerian Inland Revenue Department, the precursor to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, was carved out of the Inland Revenue Department of British West Africa. The Inland Revenue Department was renamed the federal Board of Inland Revenue underthe Income Tax Ordinance NO.39 of 1958. This change was re-echoed again in1961 when the companies and Income Tax Act No.22 of 1961 established theFederal Board of Inland Revenue, FBIR. CITA 1961 also established the Body ofAppeal Commissioners as the first point of call in the resolution of disputesbetween taxpayers and the board concerning assessment and payment of tax.Also, the income Tax Management Act 1961 created the Joint Tax Board andcharged it, primarily, to ensure uniformity of standards and application ofpersonal income tax in Nigeria.

In 1993, some major changes took place with the passage of the Finance (Miscellaneous Taxation provisions) Act No.3 of 1993 and decree 104 of 199. While decree 3 reviewed the composition of the FBIR, decree 104, among other things, reviewed the functions of the Joint Tax Board. The history of tax administration changed dramatically again in 2007 with the granting of financial and administrative autonomy to the Federal Inland Revenue Service through the passage of the Federal Inland Revenue Service(establishment) Act2007. The passage of the FIRS Establishment Act was an actualization of one of several reform initiatives that arose from the recommendations of the study and working Groups on Nigerian tax system. The study Group, headed by professor Dotun Phillip, was set up by the federal Government in 2002 and submitted its report in 2003. The report of the study group was reviewed by the Working Group headed by Mr. Seyi Bickerseth and the implementation of the Harmonized report of the two groups commenced in earnest in 2004.

The changes that occurred in tax system since 2004 cut acrossorganisational restructuring of the federal and state authorities, the enactmentof a National Tax Policy, Funding, legislation, taxpayer education, dispute resolution mechanism, taxpayer registration, human capacity building, automation of key process, refund mechanism and several other areas. Political and socio-economic factors usually provide the context for everyreform process. In the case of the 2004 reform era, the need to shift emphasisfrom oil to a more sustainable source of funding has been the overridingconsideration. Of particular importance is the need to develop the non-oil taxsegment and increase its overall contribution to the national coffers. Focuseddetermination, support of key stakeholders and enabling political and legal environments have been critical in the successes to record to date.

Under it's current Executive Chairman, Tunde Fowler, the FIRS introduced measures to enhance compliance and prompt payment of taxes by MDAs, companies and individuals .These include:

  • Developed and deployed 6 e-solutions to ease tax payment
  • Implemented a tax amnesty programme that waived interest and penalty of defaulting taxpayers which netted N68 billion Collaborated with other agencies like CAC,CBN, OAGF and JTB to register 814,000 new corporate taxpayers.
  • Increasing the Nigerian national tax roll to about 19 million
  • Strengthened the tax audit function of FIRS that led to the recovery of over N35.65 billion

The FIRS also contributed to the upward movement of Nigeria in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking. Nigeria also moved up 11 places in terms of global ranking of ease of paying taxes. VAIDS (Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme) was co-initiated with the Federal Ministry of Finance and received over 5000 applications under the Scheme. It resulted in voluntary declaration of over N92 billion liability with over N34.63 billion paid so far by companies.

In 2017, FIRS improved 22% on the collection of 2016(N3.3trillion) by collecting N4.03 trillion even with the crude oil price hovering at an average of $50 per barrel.FIRS has received several awards. The African Tax Administration Forum(ATAF) adjudged FIRS online Stamp Duty portal as the Best Innovation in Tax Administration on the African continent in 2016. In 2017, the United Nations named Fowler as one of 25 global tax experts. Fowler is the global tax expert’s first Vice-Chairman.


For enquiries or feedback about service received at any of our offices nationwide, please mail any of the listed addresses, or call the following numbers:

Phone Numbers 09074444441
Revenue House,
20 Sokode Crescent,
Wuse Zone 5,