Tuesday, 11 April 2017

FIRS raises N3.3tr in tax revenue

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) realised N3.3 trillion in- tax revenue in 2016, the Executive Chairman, Tunde Fowler, has said. The FIRS chief, who spoke in Abuja yesterday at a training for journalists on tax reporting, praised the efforts of the Service for raising the amount at a most trying period in the country’s economic history. He praised the FIRS performed for attaining the feat at a time when oil prices dropped to less than $50 a barrel for over nine months, and when the value of stocks on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) slid and purchasing power was slim. In achieving the goal, he said the FIRS implemented “waiver of Interest and penalty as part of efforts to promote voluntary compliance and shield taxpayers from the burden of carrying forward tax liabilities that arose from penalty and interest.” FIRS “successfully implemented a waiver of interest and penalty for three years (2013 to 2015),” he said, adding that the Service by engaging this entirely new idea, “has so far realized N27 billion.” Fowler said by expanding the tax net with a massive nationwide registration exercise of new tax payers, has resulted in the registration of 814,000 additional taxpayers by December 2016, and 3.4 million taxpayers by State Internal Revenue Services (SIRSs). “By Decemeber last year, Nigeria has a National Tax Roll of 14 million,” he said. The FIRS chief attributed last year’s tax revenue figure to the ease of tax payment. He said the FIRS asked taxpayers to file their tax returns at the FIRS offices nearest to them. This novel idea has increased compliance as it eased the burden of taxpayers, who hitherto, had to travel from far places to pay their taxes. Another reason for the performance Fowler said, was the “improved collaboration with the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to ensure that MDAs remit taxes such as Withholding Tax (WHT) Value Added Tax (VAT) promptly through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).” Other factors that aided the FIRS in raising the impressive N3.3 trillion tax revenue Fowler said, included collaboration with the Joint Tax Board (JTB) and SIRSs on several fronts, such as Taxpayer Enlightenment, Tax Enforcement and registration of new taxpayers and Tax Education, among several others. Fowler said Integrated Stamp Duties Services (ISDS) portal for ease of tax payment, “was introduced by the Service for a purpose-built Stamp Duty portal that facilitates the online assessment and payment of Stamp Duties by Nigerian taxpayers. The FIRS “is convinced that with progressive application of technology, persuasion and enforcement on recalcitrant taxpayers, and partnership with key stakeholders like the press, we will collect enough revenue for the nation in 2017,” Fowler said.

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