FIRS

Finance Minister Commends Fowler As FIRS Rakes In N13 Billion From Billionaire Defaulters

Finance Minister Commends Fowler As FIRS Rakes In N13 Billion From Billionaire Defaulters

Less than a month after it commenced its substitution and payment for recalcitrant billionaire taxpayers, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has collected about N12.66 tax revenue, the Executive Chairman, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, has on Friday. 

He disclosed this when he received the new Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed at the Revenue House. 

Fowler spoke as the minister said commended the agency for shoring-up the non-oil revenue.

“The Ministry of Finance will continue to work collaboratively with FIRS to support all the efforts that you are doing. And as much as possible, we should interface frequently. For us, the directive I have is to increase the tax revenue and that is the most important task ahead of all of us. You have done well. And the reward for good work is more work”, she said. 

Hajia Ahmed urged the FIRS to “maintain the tempo” because literarily, the country depends on the work that FIRS does to shore-up the revenue collection to support the government. 

She encouraged all government agencies to work together to fish out all corrupt persons in the country, stating that this is the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

“The FIRS is a very important agency of government. I wanted to underscore this importance. FIRS is one of the first agencies in the Ministry of Finance that I am meeting.  The Federal Government Medium Term Plan is hinged on diversifying the economy away from the oil revenues to non-oil sector. And the report that the Executive Chairman of FIRS has presented indicates that the diversification effort is working. This is reflected in the turn of the contribution of non-oil revenues over the last three years. 

“I am happy that we have a team in FIRS that is not only expanding the revenue base but also significantly improving tax collection and taking tax offices closer to the people and making it easier for the people to pay their taxes by online and e-tax payment procedures that you have undertaken. And I am sure that, from what I have heard today, that you would continue with all these processes.

“I am also glad that you are increasing cooperation with several agencies like the EFCC, ICPC and Nigeria Customs Service. This is important because the directive from the president for anti-corruption involves cooperation within yourselves as well as with anti-corruption agencies. It makes a lot of sense to priotise tax collection to larger categories: from the big ones to other ones. The effort you are doing in Abuja, Lagos and Osun is a commendable one and I encourage you to maintain the tempo in generating tax revenues”, she said.

She said the country needs to continue with the effort to strengthen the non-oil sector, stating that the part that FIRS should play is to continue with its effort so that the non-oil sector would generate larger part of the tax revenue on sustainable basis.

About a month ago, the FIRS in collaboration with other stakeholders launched the initiative to freeze the bank accounts of High Networth companies which fail to pay their taxes promptly.

Fowler told the minister that the initiative has pooled about N12. 66 billion into the government coffers.

“FIRS wrote to all commercial banks in May 2018, requesting for a list of Companies, Partnerships, and Enterprises with a banking turnover of N1 billion and above. This activity is aimed at ascertaining those companies that are complaint with the Tax Laws and those that are not complaint. So far, non-compliant organization have paid about N12.66 billion.

“The FIRS will continue to implement initiatives that will drive compliance and generate revenue by continuous taxpayer enlightenment, implementation of the Auto VAT Collect in other sectors of the economy, simplification of the tax processes especially for small taxpayers, strengthening collaborations with other agencies such as CAC, States Boards of Internal Revenue, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Nigeria Customs Service”, Fowler said. 

The FIRS Chairman also told the minister that the Service realised the sum of N2.983 billion from payment on demand notices on property owners who are being assessed based on their turnover and that 653 of 2, 672 of such non-filers have starting filing now.

From enforcement, Fowler said FIRS has collected a total of N47.5 billion from 2016 till date and $32.8 million, £5.9, netted N225 billion from audit and has collected more than N1 trillion above its January to August collection last year. 

He said that FIRS collection of N4.03 trillion in 2017 has 62.25 percent as non-oil while oil is just 37.75 percent. It was 64.99 in favour of non-oil in 2016 and 35.01 for oil. In 2018, the FIRS has done 54.56 percent for non-oil and 45.44 percent for oil receipts. 

Fowler added that Value Added Tax (VAT) receipt is on a steady increase. “So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected 773.49bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2015 (767.33bn), and is set to surpass 2016 (828.19bn), and 2017 (972.30bn) with four more collection months left in the year.

“e-stamp duties collection is on a steady increase. So far in 2018, the FIRS have collected 10.10bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2017 (10.9bn), 2016 (5.6bn), and 2015 (7.1bn)”.

Signed
Wahab Gbadamosi
Head, Communications and Servicom Department
Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)​

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FIRS Going After Billionaire Tax Defaulters

FIRS Going After Billionaire Tax Defaulters

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), will soon go after the bank accounts of defaulting taxpayers who are raking in billions in Nigeria and are not paying taxes, FIRS Chairman, Tunde Fowler has said.

In doing that, FIRS, through all banks in the country, will do substitution on accounts for such identified taxpayers. Such defaulting billionaire taxpayers have been identified by the FIRS, leveraging on banks data.

Fowler who disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting on Thursday in Lagos, noted that most of such taxpayers, who have between N1 and N5 billion in their accounts have no Taxpayer Identification Number, TIN, or have TIN and have not filed any tax returns as taxpayers.

Said the FIRS Chairman: “What we have done is what we call “substitution” which also is in our laws which empowers us to appoint the banks as collection agents for tax. So, all these ones of TIN and no pay and no TIN and no pay, to the total of 6772 will have their accounts frozen or put under substitution pending when they come forward. First, they refused to come forward in 2016, they refused to come forward under VAT and are still operating here. So, we are putting them under notice that it is their civic responsibility to pay tax and to file returns on these accounts.

Fowler explained further: “We looked all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts that have a minimum turnover of N1 billion per annum for the past three years. First of all, the law states clearly that before you open a corporate account, part of the opening documentation is the tax I.D. From the 23 banks, we have analysed so far, we have 31,395 records, out of which effectively minus duplications we had 18,602.

“We broke those into three categories: Those that have TIN tax I.D, those that don’t have no TIN and of course no TIN no pay and those that have TIN and have not even paid anything.

“So, on a minimum, every company or business included here over the last three years have had a banking turnover of N3 billion and above. Some of them have had banking turnover of over N5 billion and have not paid one kobo in taxes. Now the total number of TIN and no pay is 6772. 

“So, if someone is good in mathematics and you take the minimum level of N3 billion multiply by 409 and they are operating within our society and economy and do not remit or make any tax”” payment.

Paraphrasing the Nobel Laurette, Professor Wole Soyinka’s famous pithy quotation of wasted generation, Fowler said this generation should not repeat Soyinka statement by their conduct: “I plead with the banks to support us in supporting us, you are supporting Nigeria. In supporting Nigeria, you are supporting all Nigerians and those who have chosen Nigeria as home. And most of all, you are supporting a future that we can leave behind for the upcoming youth of Nigeria.

“I remember this when we were growing up a statement made by Wole Soyinka that our generation is a wasted generation. That (the statement) has remained in my mind for many years. Wole Soyinka is still alive. His generation is a generation of 80s and above. Let us not look back and say also our generation has not left any value behind. I think it is time for us to change.”

He noted that FIRS is also paying closer attention to Audit.” We have started a comprehensive Audit exercise that involves both national and regional Audits… because we got to a position where we found out that majority of the major organizations that were allowed to do self-assessment, do not truthfully declare or pay the taxes that were due. To date we have raised assessment of over N805 billion from 1324 National Audits out of which 499 (taxpayers) have N219 billion.

“N219 billion, it can do a lot of things. It can provide certainly a lot more infrastructure, healthcare and educational facilities. These monies that are supposed to go into the Federation Account are shared between Federal, Local and State governments. So, every state can get an additional 1 billion from such monies, hopefully if you vote right, that governor, that governor would deploy it to the right place.

At the stakeholders’ at Oriental Hotels in Lagos, attended by representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, (Man am, CBN, Nigerian Employers Consultative Council, NECA, Labour Unions, professional Accounting and audit firms, tax consultants amongst others, Fowlers noted that it is not fair nor right for businesses to be making money in the Nigerian space and fail or refuse to contribute no tax to the till.

“Gone are the time or days we ask what has government done for me.  We should ask what are doing for ourselves and the nation first. We should obey the law, pay our taxes, empower our governments at various levels then sit back and see the end results. If we see the amount of the budget that has gone into capital under this present government, but not only gone into the government but being expensed, it is at least three times more when the revenues were even higher. 

He did not spare the FIRS either, even though it had made over N1 trillion over its 2017 collection between January to August by N1 trillion. “If you look at 2018 revenue to date, between January and August, we have done N3.5 trillion, which is N1 trillion over 2017. But the main point I want to make is that majority of taxpayers that accounted for this revenue have not changed. The laws have not changed. And to a great extent, the consultants to these companies have not changed. If you look at 2017, there is an increase of close to N800 billion over the 2016 collection.

“The increase in 2018 so far showed N 1 trillion. If the same consultants advised or reviewed the accounts of the majority of the taxpayers, one would wonder why such large increases occurred. It is either the taxpayers did not disclose fully their financials to the consultants or the consultants involved in tax planning.”

Either way, it is not to the wellbeing of our nation, Nigeria

He noted the perfidy of businesses who collect VAT and not remitting to government covers: “We have found out that a number of businesses , collect VAT  that do not remit to government, So we are going back old school way and I would just like to publicly display this, this is the new VAT  certificate which would be given to all tax payers and we expect them to display it in their places of business because we also found out and I will actual figures that the number of businesses were not even  registered tax payers and were collecting VAT. Without having a tax, I.D as an agent or a collect of VAT there is no way you can remit that VAT to government. So, in short, they sort were collecting and adding it to their income and spending it. 

The FIRS Chairman noted that taxpayers can now enjoy the flexibility of choosing their tax offices and paying online “Prior to now, at times your tax office can be an hour away from your office, tax payers can now choose where their file reside You can pay anywhere in the world: London, Dubai, New York, pay your taxes online and download your receipt immediately.

Citing the example of taxes FIRS is levying on corporates who have property, but are now being assessed on the value of their property’s turn over, Fowler clarified on why such property owners are being assessed for tax

“First of all, banking turnover does not mean that is the turnover of your business it simply means the money that has gone in and out of your account, but what the tax law says is that” if you do not file your returns and you are in constant default we use turnover as a basis of estimating your tax liability’. For example, if your turnover is N100 million we assume that 20% of that is profit and we tax that at30%

“Some of them claim not to own the property, those of them that claim not to own the property and of course were sent to government, Presidency to decide what would happen to those properties that have no owners. To those that have owners and have not paid they would be prosecuted. We are also in the process of going to court to get the approval of the court orders to sell those properties. We are not only doing that Abuja. We’ve concluded in Lagos. We are currently doing it in Osun, Oyo, Kaduna and eventually we would cover the whole federation.

“The idea here is simple if you have had the opportunity to make your wealth in this economy, in this society, the least you can do is pay your tax.

“We have not included any group who by law are not meant to pay tax in this group. So far, we have sent out 2980 letters and we believe that before the end of September we would get most of them out.”

See more:
-In New Revenue Drive, FIRS Targets Billionaire TaxDefaulters – ThisDay
https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2018/09/10/in-new-revenue-drive-firs-targets-billionaire-tax-defaulters/ 

-Tax default: FIRS targets bank accounts of 6,772 billionaires – Daily Trust 
https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/tax-default-firs-targets-bank-accounts-of-6772-billionaires.html 

-FIRS to raise tax-to-GDP contribution by 20% – Punch 
https://punchng.com/firs-to-raise-tax-to-gdp-contribution-by-20/

-FIRS to sell tax evaders’ properties, freeze 6,772 accounts – Punch 
https://punchng.com/firs-to-sell-tax-evaders-properties-freeze-6772-accounts/

-Over 6,772 billionaires don’t pay tax – FIRS – Daily Post Nigeria
http://dailypost.ng/2018/09/10/6772-billionaires-dont-pay-tax-firs/

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Five Tax Amendment Bills Coming Says Vice President Osinbajo Press Release

Five Tax Amendment Bills Coming Says Vice President Osinbajo Press Release

Five tax amendment bills are coming, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced today in Abuja.

The Vice President said the Federal Government’s Committee on the National Tax Policy (NTP) has drafted five amendment bills which will soon be sent to the National Assembly. This is in collaboration with states and other stakeholders to ensure that Nigeria’s tax laws and the NTP are friendly and realistic.

“Our tax system requires review, to among others, ensure removal of obsolete and contradictory clauses. That was why we raised a committee in 2016. The committee’s work has produced five amendment bills that will soon be sent to the National Assembly. Our aim is that no one is left at the mercy of a bad tax regime. I am happy at new levels of cooperation between states and the Federal Government which we have seen in the implementation of VAIDS. I am pleased to note that the number of registered taxpayers is now in excess of 19 million”, said the Vice President.

Hesaidembracing technology to collect tax and to block leakages in public expenditure—like the Treasury Single Account(TSA) and accompanying transparency in public expenditure, — are significant game changers. He compared the changes this brought about to the impact which invention of electricity had on people’s lives when it was invented.

Osinbajo who spoke ex-tempore noted that the CITN conference held on the day when Chief Obafemi Awolowo died some 30 years ago. He noted that free education, which was funded solely from tax revenue, ensured a spiral in school enrolment in the old Western region-from 355,000 in 1952 when it was introduced to 811,000 in 1959. It was the highest in Africa at the time.

The Vice President noted too that key infrastructural provision in Western Nigeria: University of Ife, Airport hotel in Ikeja,25-storey building Cocoa House building in Ibadan, several industrial estates in many parts of the Western Region, were made possible by tax money from citizen’s pockets.

Citing further statistics about national tax collection, Osinbajoobserved that Lagos alone generates more Internally Generated Revenue than over 30 states combined. “Of the 70 million taxable individuals, only 14 million pay any form of tax. Of the 943 individuals who pay any form of Self-assessment and who pay above N10 million, 941 live in Lagos State. Two live in Ogun State.”

The Vice President who observed that tax is not a subject that excites most people in the world, said tax is a social-contract question that should bind citizens and trigger robust interest in governance, accountability and democracy. He recalled that it was tax that triggered the slogan “No taxation without representation” that was the rallying cry for the American War of independence. Tax, he said, was also at the root of the riots in Aba and Abeokuta- both led by women.

He noted the gains of over N200billion which the Federal made from the deployment of technology to track ghost workers and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) from whence the Federal Government has made savings of about N4 billion monthly. This has strengthened its ability to spend more on infrastructure, he said.

The VP said the economic prosperity of Nigeria will come from taxation and encouraged taxpayers to always pay the right taxes at the right time as that is the fulfilment of their responsibilities as citizens. 

At the same event, the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, said the Service is building a robust tax system that is making tax payment convenient to taxpayers both at the federal level and at the states and local government levels.

“What we are doing is to build a tax system that will not only be effective at the Federal level but also at the states and local government levels. Nobody wants to pay taxes. Not even the tax administrator. So, we have to make tax payment convenient and attractive. Attractive in the sense that people must see what you are doing with the tax money. That is what the FIRS and the Joint Tax Board (JTB)are doing”, he said.

Fowler said it is the culture of the JTB to go to the states to inspect projects that state governments are handling. By doing that, he said, “states which are not doing well get inspired by their counterparts who are using the tax money well to build facilities for their people. 

“The only way you can improve the tax system is through technology. FIRS has rolled out six-online solutions through which you can pay your taxes online (e-payment), e-receipt. You can download your receipts and authenticate the receipts using your smart phones. We have e-Stamp duties, e-filing, e-Withholding Tax e-alerts, e-payment, e-Tax Clerance Certificates, (etc). 

“Our job is like that of a medical doctor, we ensure that businesses are healthy. It is when businesses are healthy that they can make profits and pay taxes.

We have changed the orientation of our staff to make them see their jobs as stewardship. We let the staff know that they are there to serve the taxpayers”.

The theme for this year’s CITN conference is ‘Institutionalising Taxpaying Culture in Developing Economies’.

CITN President, Cyril Ikemefuna, said theme for the year was crafted given the need for a change in the taxpaying culture in Nigeria. 

Signed
Wahab Gbadamosi 
Head, Communications and Servicom Department 
Federal Inland Revenue Service​

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FIRS intends to Surpass N5.3 trillion 2018 Collection

FIRS intends to Surpass N5.3 trillion 2018 Collection

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Babatunde Fowler, has said that the service will this year surpass the N5.3tn revenue generated in the 2018 period.

He said this during a chat with finance journalists on Thursday in Abuja.

Fowler said that the service had embarked on a series of reforms aimed at making it easier for taxpayers to pay their taxes.

He said the reforms had started yielding results as the service was able to generate its highest ever tax revenue of N5.3tn in 2018.

The FIRS boss explained that while huge revenue could be generated from oil, such revenue was unsustainable due to the volatile nature of the crude oil prices.

Fowler said the government recognised the importance of non-oil revenue to economic development, adding that this was why the service was being positioned to generate adequate revenue for the distribution by the three tiers of government.

He said, “We recorded some improvements last year as well made the sum of N5.3tn which is the highest in the history of the service.”

“But it’s not about that but on what it can do. Many people believed that if we are generating so much money, then the Federal Government budget has no problem being funded.”

“But they tend to forget that what we generated is shared between the three tiers of government.”

“We generated N5.3tn and the highest before then for the country was N5.07tn. But the difference here is that in 2012, the oil revenue tax accounted for 64 per cent while in 2018 oil revenue accounted for 46 per cent.”

He said as a result of the dwindling oil revenue, the FIRS was working hard in ensuring taxes were collected and remitted for the benefits of the nation and all the three tiers of the government by targeting non-oil revenue.

In carrying out its mandate within the dynamic economic environment, the FIRS boss said the service had adopted initiatives to ensure a robust tax administration that was beneficial for all stakeholders.

 

Signed
Wahab Gbadamosi
Head, Communications and Servicom Department
Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)​

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Fowler – New African Tax Chair Lists Priorities, Says Won’t Disappoint Africa

Fowler - New African Tax Chair Lists Priorities, Says Won't Disappoint Africa

The newly elected Chairperson of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) and Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, has said he will not disappoint the confidence reposed in him by the tax body as he identified his priorities in the next three years.

According to Fowler, his priorities include: robust exchange of programmes to build capacity for member-states, renewed membership drive to increase numbers of members and make active dormant members, especially from North Africa, secure continued support of ATAF Development Partners and to consolidate ATAF’s collaboration with international and regional multilateral bodies.

“Be assured you have made good choice. I shall not disappoint you”, Fowler said in his acceptance speech.

Fowler told representatives of 38 member-countries of ATAF and stakeholders across the continent, Wednesday in South Africa that ATAF needed to be strengthened in order to adequately face the challenges of economic downturn in African countries.

“Our organization must be strengthened to remain relevant and provide support to members as they grapple with the peculiar challenges facing Tax administration in the current global economic downturn which is putting governments under severe pressure in both the developed and developing countries. The times we are, makes the job of the revenue collector, most arduous”

“At such challenging times for tax administrators, I shall be preoccupied with accomplishing, working the members of the Council and member countries and the Secretariat over the next two years: improve the Fundingavailable to support the lofty plans ATAF (Trainings, Technical assistance and staff exchange programmes, etc) has towards assisting members improve their capacities to collect the revenue our governments require to improve the wellbeing of Africa’s teeming populace; intensify membership drive–to increase numbers of members and make active dormant members, especially our brothers from North Africa and secure the continued support of our Development Partners”, Mr. Fowler said.

Fowler said he would work with his team to Consolidate ATAF’s collaboration with international and regional multilateral bodies.
“To ensure that Tax administration is given the required levels of support from the highest political levels in our countries, we will ensure that ATAF continues with more vigour its engagements with the African Union (AU) and specifically the AU Forum of Finance Ministers. Also, ATAF’s collaboration on tax matters with such bodies as OECD, WATAF, CIAT, CATA will be strengthened to ensure that ATAF continues to benefits from the vast experience in tax matters available within the membership of these bodies and to ensure a well-functioning and properly staffed ATAF Secretariat (with a good spread of Africa’s linguistic diversity), where the Staff are provided with the adequate incentives and well equipped to attend to the needs of ATAF members”, he said.

Mr. Tunde Fowler, the first Nigerian to head ATAF emerged the winner of the keenly contested election during the Forum’s 4th General Assembly meeting in Durban, South Africa and was elevated from a Council Member to the Council Chairman.

ATAF announced the FIRS Chairman’s victory on its twitter @ATAFtax handle
thus: “Mr Babatunde Fowler, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria elected ATAF Council Chair 2016-2018. He will be deputised by Mauritius”.

Mr. Fowler is the 3rd Chairperson of ATAF while Mr. Oupa Magashula of South Africa was the Forum’s first Chairperson. 

By his election, the FIRS Chief Executive takes over from the Commissioner General of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, Mr. Gershem T. Pasi and will preside over the affairs of the Forum from 2016 to 2018. 

Signed
Wahab Gbadamosi
Head, Communications and Servicom Department​

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FIRS Offers New Tax Regime To Further Compliance

FIRS Offers New Tax Regime To Further Compliance

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has taken a major step to help reduce tax liabilities arising from penalty and interest on taxpayers from 2013 to 2015.

The measure is part of the Service efforts to promote voluntary compliance and shield taxpayers from the burden of carrying forward old tax liabilities as regards to interest and penalty.

FIRS announced in a public notice signed by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Tunde Fowler, that taxpayers in default should come forward to declare their indebtedness within stipulated 45 days while the waiver lasted.

It also required that such defaulted taxpayers must present a payment plan on the outstanding Principal Tax Liability acceptable to the Federal Board of Inland Revenue. 

The special window which commenced on October 5, will end on November 24, 2016, and is expected to address accumulated penalty and interest, and not principal tax due.

Fowler, said that the waiver would allow part payment as well as full payment of undisputed tax liabilities which must be paid, while the balance would be paid instalmentally.

He advised taxpayers who have not fulfil their tax obligations to take advantage of the special window to pay a reasonable amount of not less than 25 percent of the principal tax liabilities.

“By this public notice, FIRS invites taxpayers who have not been fulfilling their statutory tax obligations, to take advantage of this special window, failing which all legal means at the disposal of the FIRS will be deployed including criminal prosecution of the Board and Management of the defaulting organisation,” he said.

The Service is relying on the provision of the Companies Income Tax Act CAP C21, LFN 2007 and Federal Inland Revenue Service Establishment Act (FIRSEA) 2007, to offer the special window.

The combined sections stated that: “the FIRS in exercise its powers under Section 85 (3) of the Companies Income Tax Act CAP C21 LFN 2007 (as amended) (and replicated in Section 32 (3) of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Establishment Act (FIRSEA 2007) hereby invites all principal officers, especially Chairmen, Managing Directors, Chief Executive Officers, Executive and Non-Executive Directors, Chief Financial Officers and all company owners or their representatives, to take advantage of the special window to avoid payment of penalty and interest on tax due between 2013 to 2015.”

In a related development, the Service has urged taxpayers to file their Companies Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT) and Withholding Tax (WHT) returns at the FIRS office nearest to their place of business or choice of location.

Taxpayers are advised to apply to the Tax Controller indicating the tax office of their choice and request for the transfer of their file and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN).

This measure is also expected to ease processes of tax administration, reduce cost for taxpayers and enhance voluntary tax compliance as well as service delivery to the tax paying public.

Signed
Wahab Gbadamosi
Head, Communication and SERVICOM Department​

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How Autonomy Could Help Tax Administration In Africa, By Tunde Fowler

How Autonomy Could Help Tax Administration In Africa, By Tunde Fowler

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, has painted a bright future of tax administration in Africa, stating that the continent holds much more revenue generation prospects.
Speaking to Chief Executives of African Tax Authorities at the African Tax Administration Forum and International Monetary Fund (ATAF-IMF) high-level seminar in Cape Town, South Africa over the weekend, Fowler urged African leaders to set their eyes on granting autonomy to their Revenue Authorities as that will strengthen the tax institutions and prime them to generate more revenue for their countries.

Fowler said: “Clearly, Revenue Authorities across Africa have the potential to generate funding for their respective governments and they will perform better if they are: allowed to fully be in charge of their day to day operations and empowered to hire staff, pay competitive salaries and provide regular training for staff”

The FIRS Chairman added that Nigeria’s experience is worthwhile: “The compelling evidence from Nigeria’s experience is that wherever Revenue Authorities have been granted operational, administrative and financial autonomy and allowed to operate with minimal civil service bureaucratic encumbrances, revenue administration has been enhanced and tax collection performance have gone up significantly. Autonomous Revenue Authorities with independent Boards have proven to be beneficial for the actualization of their mandate to generate funding that government require for projects and programmes”, Fowler said.

As a result, Fowler pointed out that tax revenue grew from N1.846 trillion in 2007 when FIRS was granted autonomy to N5.01 trillion in 2012; N4.805 trillion in 2013, N4.746trillion in 2014. In the LIRS too, tax revenue grew from N50 billion in 2007 to 300 billion in 2014.

In the Nigeria’s experience, the falling revenues from Oil in the 1990s, prompted Government to focus more on tax revenue generation, by adopting series of tax reforms initiatives, Fowler added.

He noted that owing to years of neglect due to government’s focus on revenues from Oil, the apparatus of tax administration operated at less than optimal levels.

He also recalled that the Revenue Authority was faced with several challenges such as: operating under the Ministry of Finance with the attendant bureaucratic encumbrances, absence of financial and administrative autonomy, existence of leakages in the revenue collection due to lack of transparency and corrupt practices by tax officials and taxpayers; low staff morale as a result of poor remuneration and poor working conditions of tax officials; prevalence of manual means of tax operations and low usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT); neglect of tax payer education and absence of quality service delivery and inadequate human resources and skills set as a result of inadequate training.

The FIRS Chairman recalled various Study Groups and Working Groups reports that have shaped tax administration in Nigeria. “The recommendations of the Study and Working Groups culminated in the establishment in 2007 of an autonomous FIRS with its own independent Board, and the promulgation of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act, No. 13, 2007)”, he said.

It was the second time a tax agency will enjoy autonomy in Nigeria with an Act of Parliament; the first being the enactment of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service Law in 2006 by the Lagos State House of Assembly.

The FIRS Chief Executive explained that the FIRS, with an oversight by an independent Board, has been able to initiate and implement various revenue collection enhancement projects and programmes such as:

  • Tax office modernization – upgrade of existing offices, construction and equipping of new model Tax offices  and conducive working environment for Tax officials, a ‘welcoming atmosphere’ for taxpayers as well as operations vehicles to optimise official performance;

 

  • Taxpayer Service education and enlightenment activities – regular use of the mass media to enlighten taxpayers on their rights and obligations , which is aimed at promoting  voluntary compliance as a key attribute of a modern and vibrant tax system and effective collaboration with taxpayers;

 

  • VAT Auto-Collect project  recently deployed system, aimed at on-line, real time deduction and remittance of VAT at source from key sectors such as Airlines, Telecommunications and Banking and Financial institutions;

 

  • Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) project – aims at automating all core tax administration processes (registration, filing, audit etc.), provision of multiple tax payment channels, such as e-tax pay, Remita, GIFMIS, etc., aimed at making compliance/payment of taxes easier for Taxpayers and for improved revenue collection;

 

  • National Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) project – in collaboration with States Internal Revenue Services an internet-based system (SIGTAS) has been deployed to register and uniquely identify taxpayers across Nigeria, including the capture of taxpayer biometrics;

 

  • Massive Taxpayers Registration activities – which has led to significant widening of the tax base, with the registration over of 700,000 new corporate taxpayers within the past 12 months;

 

  • i-SHARE Project – a Project initiated to ensure effective communication and collaboration within the Service and with other stakeholders.

 

  • Self-Assessment Project – aimed at assisting taxpayers file tax returns as and when due, calculate their income, expenditure and tax liabilities hence improve taxpayer service and voluntary compliance

The FIRS Chairman saidwhile there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to do this, a good way to start is to put in place the legal and administrative framework to ensure that the Revenue Authority can function with less public service bottlenecks and have access to the resources required to deliver on their mandates for domestic resource mobilization and funding for governments across Africa.

He noted too, that political support from the topmost level by political office holders and general policy direction from the supervisory Ministries of Finance, will be critical to the success of Revenue Authorities.

Signed
Wahab Gbadamosi
Head, Communications and SERVICOM Department

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N5, 000 Tax Enough To Save A Child From Dying From Malaria, Says Tunde Fowler

N5, 000 Tax Enough To Save A Child From Dying From Malaria, Says Tunde Fowler

CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF TAXATION, GHANA HONOURS FIRS CHAIRMAN

Five thousand Naira, (N5, 000) may seem too little to do a buffet at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja or at Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos. 

But a tax of N5,000 is enough to save the life of a child who has malaria from death, Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Mr. Tunde Fowler, has said. 

Fowler observed thus in Accra on Wednesday  as he stated that every kobo contributed by a taxpayer – even as little as N5,000-is enough to stop the death of a child from malaria. 

It was at the Annual Tax Conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana, (CITG) where Fowler was also given an award as an Honorary Fellow of CITG for his contributions to the tax institute. 

Fowler, who delivered the lead paper at the Conference” Strategies For Revenue Mobilisation, in Contemporary Times: Challenges in Tax Legislation” said his success in establishing a connect between tax contribution of as little as N5000 and the life of a child who may die from malaria, touched the hearts of some taxpayers in Lagos who turned a new leaf and became compliant taxpayers. 

He told tax practitioners and administrators, from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Cote D’ivoire and other parts of the West African sub-region, that beyond deploying the law, enforcement, technology and mobilization, tax administrators must deploy a medley of psychology, persuasion and being firm to convince their fellow countrymen  to pay tax  and fund their country’s development. 

Said the FIRS Executive Chairman: “When you ask people to pay tax, they ask you: “Why? But when you tell them that a tax of N5000 is enough to safe a child from dying from malaria, their attitude about tax begin to change gradually. As a tax administrator, you have to become a teacher to save the life of a child. 

“The point is that as tax administrators, we must see the work that we do, not just as another job, but as nation building. Tax collection is nation building. It is serving your nation. It is serving God. When you convince a taxpayer that the tax he/she pays could save the life of a child who has malaria from death, you could begin to touch the taxpayer’s heart. 

“We can still do a lot with the laws we have now. Before the law changes, tax administrators, need to wear the hat of a teacher, a psychologist, a friendly person and a firm upholder of the law. 

“I urge all of us stakeholders to be conscious of our roles in ensuring that Africa catches up with the rest of the world in moving away from dependence on resource revenue towards dependence on taxation as the primary source of funding for our development. 

The FIRS Executive Chairman noted that in 2015, South Africa collected $57 billion USD. Nigeria with its oil wealth and population of over 140 million people and about 60 million taxable citizens, collected $27 billion dollars. 

The FIRS chairman noted that it was curious that no member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC—- with all their wealth-is in the league of developed countries. Today, he noted, Venezuellans queue for food. “It can be argued that the extent to which an economyis able to grow sustainably and develops depends to a large extent on its ability to generate tax revenue to finance its expenditure and the efficiency if its tax system. 

Even in Nigeria, Oil, Gas and Mining sector (6.48) is not the biggest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product of $422.59 billion dollars. The sector, he noted, takes the third place after Trade (19.15) and Agriculture (19.0). 

Fowler, who stated that governments fund budget either by levying taxes or borrowing, noted that whatever taxmen do must still be within the ambit of the law. He observed that though it is tasking, itis still possible to collect taxes with existing laws. He, however, still reckoned that obsolete laws and challenging law amendment processes were some of the challenges to tax legislation in Africa. 

He said the situation is not bleak as tax administrators must be innovative, purposeful, dedicated and result oriented. With their conduct, tax administrators could convince legislators and elected office holders of the direction that tax legislation should go. 

Once this is clear and lawmakers and power holders are convinced that tax administrators are pushing for those changes for collective good, changes in tax legislation will not be difficult to advocate. 

Other routes to overcoming tax collection challenges Fowler noted include, collaboration with stakeholders, robust taxpayer education, simplifying tax laws, review of waivers and exemptions, discouragement of impunity and flouting of tax laws. 

“One issue that is clear is that there can be no successful revenue mobilization without a sound tax law regime as a platform for implementing the strategy. Strategies which are implemented without a sound legal footing usually fail or do not stand the test of time”. 

In bestowing Mr Fowler with the Honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Tax Administrators, Ghana, CITG’s President NiiAyii  Aryeetey and Secretary, Fred Teeteh, described the FIRS Chairman as having been of “tremendous help to the CITG” in the past years both at FIRS and as Executive Chairman, Lagos Inland Revenue Service, LIRS, for having  “consistently mobilized Nigerian tax experts… who have contributed actively to paper presentations and discussions and helped to enrich our conferences. 

“Those expert opinions on various tax issues” the CITG President noted, have impacted positively on communiques issued after each tax conference. This has gone a long way to shape some tax policies of our country and improved revenue mobilization”. 

“The Governing Council of the CITG is very proud to be closely associated with you. Sir in recognition of your signal service to the Institute, the Governing Council confers on you, Mr. William Babatunde Fowler, Executive Chairman FIRS, and Chairman of the Joint Tax Board, JTB, Nigeria an HONORARY FELLOW of the Chartered Institute of taxation of Ghana. 

Fowler thanked the CITG for honouring him: “We may be separated by borders but Nigerians and Ghanaians are brothers. I thank you for this honour, which I accept on behalf of all Nigerian taxpayers”. 

Signed 
Wahab Gbadamosi 
Head, Communications & Servicom Department​

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FIRS Appoints New Coordinators, Redeploys 5 Directors, 21 Deputy Directors

FIRS Appoints New Coordinators, Redeploys 5 Directors, 21 Deputy Directors

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler has approved restructuring of the top echelon of the Service.

The latest redeployment which was announced on Monday, January 25th, 2016 affected Five Directors and 21 Deputy Directors. 

The newly appointed State Coordinators are: Andrew Ayabam is Acting State Coordinator, Benue, Kaduna and Niger States; Salihu Baba Alkali, Acting State Coordinator, FCT, Kogi and Nasarawa States; Jimoh I.T.T, Acting State Coordinator, Lagos East, Lagos CGT and Stamp Duty and Sola Akingbade, Acting State Coordinator, Kwara, Ekiti and Ondo States. Bimpe Badmus has been appointed for Special Duty (Financial, Oil and Gas, Multinational and Telecommunication)

The FIRS Chairman said the latest restructuring is aimed at maximizing staff potential by deploying right officers at right places.

In the new structure, the Director of FCT and North Region, Faniyi Olufemi, now heads Tax Policy and Advisory Department. Ohagwa Innocent, who was the Director, South-South and South-East Directorate Department is now Acting State Coordinator, AkwaIbom, Bayelsa and Cross River States. OshigaGbolaga  Olarenwaju who was Director, Lagos Mainland (East and West Directorate) Department moves to Acting State Coordinator, Ogun, Oyo and Osun States. Magam Umaru Mohammed who was the Director, North-West and North-East Regions Directorate Department becomes the Acting State Coordinator, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States while Adeniran Olufunlola Olaitan who was Director, Oil and Gas Department, Lagos moves to the Office of the Coordinating Director, Domestic Tax Group.

Deputy Directors who have been redeployed are: Onu Ikechukwu Nwakama moves to Acting State Coordinator, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia States; Salami Moshood Adekunle becomes Acting State Coordinator, Lagos Mainland West; Okonkwo Anthony Ikechukwu becomes Acting State Coordinator, Delta, Imo and Anambra States. Ogunjemilusi Gabriel Olaide takes over Acting State Coordinator, Lagos Island; Pam Davou becomes Acting State Coordinator Jigawa, Kano and Katsina States while Alhassan  Yahaya Ahmed is now the Acting State Coordinator, Taraba, Gombe and Adamawa States. Darmasaude Ahmed Madugu becomes the Acting State Coordinator, Yobe, Bachi and Borno States; Obri Francis Ogar moves to the Office of the Coordinating Director, Domestic Tax Group.
Deputy Directors Garba Yusuf and Irri Ode have been deployed to the FIRS Training School in KatsinaCenter while Galadima Saleh Al-Durawa and Adeleye Samuel Taiwo move to the FIRS Training School, Abuja Center. Husaini Zakari Isa and Sambo Yebeya Binuga move to FIRS Training School, Bauchi Centre; Anuya Oghenegueke Friday and Igweh Chukwuemezie Peter move to FIRS Training School, Enugu Centre.

In the same vein, Adewuyi Josiah Afolabi and Ajose Rasak Adebola have been deployed to FIRS Training School Ibadan Centre while Agu Bennett Maduka, Orebajo Temitayo Adeniyi and Fagbemi Emmanuel Ojo have been moved to FIRS Training School, Lagos Centre.

Signed 
Wahab Gbadamosi
Head, Communications & Servicom Department​

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Fowler Pledges Partnership To Shore-Up Tax Revenue

Fowler Pledges Partnership To Shore-Up Tax Revenue

The Acting Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, pledged partnership with the relevant stakeholders to shore-up the tax revenue and improve on the country’s tax administration.

Fowler made this known when he took over the mantle of leadership from the out-going Acting Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Sunday Ogungbesan at the Revenue House Abuja.

According to him, the new change of leadership at FIRS is predicated on the resolve of the Presidency to ensure maximum increase in tax revenue as the era of absolute dependency on oil proceeds was over.

Fowler said that the FIRS must take the lead in the tax revenue collection and must be ready to share information and ideas with the States Board of Internal Revenue (SBIR) in order to take tax administration in the country to another level. 

“My vision and mission is neither to alter the existing management organogram structure in FIRS nor lay-off management staff from their duty posts, but to take FIRS as well as the nation’s tax system to an enviable height. 

This we cannot achieve all alone without a robust partnership and collaboration of all stakeholders within and outside the system. We must build a synergy for a healthy exchange of information between FIRS and SBIR.

This synergy will produce the best form of revenue generation in the FIRS and the states in general as well as ensuring that over dependency on oil revenue becomes a thing of the past,” Fowler explained. 

He said that the antidote to the economic mire was for the Service to raise revenue accruing from tax collection to “records high” so that government programme would be well funded. 

Ogungbesan had solicited for more cooperation as FIRS share a similar vision with Fowler saying, “the Chairman needs the support of all staff to succeed in the business of raising revenue and we must not loss sight to satisfy the government.”

Signed 
Nneka Ifekwuna
Assistant Director, Communications & Servicom Department

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