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LATEST MAGAZINE - Profiles - September 24, 2018

FIRS collects N12.66bn from billionaire tax defaulters

Less than a month after they began substituting the accounts of recalcitrant billionaires who did not pay the corresponding taxes, the Federal Inland Revenue Service announced the collection of N12.66 tax revenue from this category of Nigerians.

FIRS Executive Chairman Tunde Fowler said on Friday when he received the new finance minister, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, during his visit to the Revenue House in Abuja.

Fowler told the minister that the initiative had recovered about 12.66 billion into the government coffers.

He stated, “The FIRS wrote to all commercial banks in May 2018 requesting for a list of companies, partnerships, and enterprises with banking turnover of N1bn and above. This activity is aimed at ascertaining those companies that are compliant with the tax laws and those that are not compliant. So far, the non-compliant organisations have paid about N12.66bn

“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 collaboration with other agencies such as the Corporate Affairs Commission, states’ boards of internal revenue; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; and the Nigeria Customs Service.”

The minister praised the agency for increasing non-oil revenues, saying, “The Ministry of Finance will continue to work with the FIRS to support all your efforts. And as much as possible, we should connect 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.”

Ahmed urged the FIRS to keep up the pace as the entire country depended on its revenue collection work to support the government.

She urged government agencies to work together to detect and denounce all corrupt people in the country, saying it was the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.

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

“I am happy that we have a team in the 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, from what I have heard today, that you would continue with all these processes.”

She added, “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 on anti-corruption involves cooperation within yourselves as well as with anti-corruption agencies. It makes a lot of sense to prioritise tax collection to larger categories, from the big ones to other ones.

“The effort you are making in Abuja, Lagos and Osun (on payment of taxes on property using turnover as the basis for assessment) is a commendable one and I encourage you to maintain the tempo in generating tax revenues.”

The minister said the country should continue its efforts to strengthen the non-oil sector, saying that the role of the FIRS was to continue its efforts to ensure that the non-oil sector generates a larger share of tax revenue on a sustainable basis.

The president of the FIRS also told the minister that the agency had realized the sum of 2.983 billion naira on landowners’ payment notices, evaluated on the basis of their turnover and that 653 of the 2,672 owners had to start filing now.

According to Mr. Fowler, the FIRS had collected a total of 47.5 billion naira from 2016 and $32.8 million, £5.9 million nairas, and collected more than N1tn N1tn above its January to August collection for last year.

He stated that Value Added Tax receipt was on a steady increase, adding, “So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected N773.49bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2015 (N767.33bn) and is set to surpass that of 2016 (N828.19bn) and 2017 (N972.30bn) with four more collection months left in the year.

“E-stamp duties’ collection is on a steady increase. So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected N10.10bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2017 (N10.9bn), 2016 (N5.6bn), and 2015 (N7.1bn)”, Fowler said.

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