Fowler and Hamman-Tukur

***Tax Compliance To Be Central In Criminal Investigation

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), under its Executive Chairman, Mr. Tunde Fowler, is revolutionizing tax administration in the country, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigeria Financial Intelligent Unit (NFIU), Mr. Modibbo Hamman-Tukur, said on Tuesday.

Tuku’s position is that FIRS’s contribution to the Federation revenue through tax is almost at par with oil revenue, adding that Fowler’s exploits and addition to whatever he met on the ground is revolutionary.

Tukur who spoke during a courtesy visit to the FIRS Chairman in Abuja, at the end of the week promised that tax compliance will soon become a key constituent of every criminal investigation by NFIU.

Said Tukur: “The FIRS has been a partner of the NFIU. Our MOU with you underscores the importance of the relationship and how we all feel for this country. In our own record, there is no government agency that recorded so much transition and changes since the advent of this democracy like the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

“What happened at the FIRS is a complete revolution and it fell in line with the expectation of every democratic society where the citizens are always expected to fund the existence of the community and finance existence of the government and its own welfare and security apparatus. And that is exactly what the FIRS is doing today.

“In those days, there was a time we could say that nobody was paying taxes in this country simply because the oil revenue was going round and the value of the money was also high. But it is a different story. From 2008 to today, the FIRS has been repositioned more than any other government agency in this country.

” And the results are showing in the figures that the FIRS is not relenting. So today, the FIRS is either contributing to the economy better than the oil industry or you are contributing at an equal rate with the oil sector even if you factor in the forex aspect of it. That is very encouraging because the more the Internally Generated Revenue grows farther, the more the oil sector will be winding down. And it says a lot about us.

“It is true that Fowler met a foundation when he came to FIRS, but what he has built on it within the last four or five years is stronger than the foundation he met on ground. Having a public instrument is good but what is more important is sustainability.

“The FIRS revenue is N5.3trillion, if by tomorrow, the figure starts going down, then you know that there is a problem. But you have been able to sustain what you inherited and built further on it. It is a milestone that you inherited a legacy in an agency and you are able to take the agency to a higher. It is a credit to you Sir.”

Fowler noted that the partnership between NFIU and FIRS will increase tax revenue generation in Nigeria. “We are partners already, but in moving forward, I’m certain that the tax revenues will increase as we work as partners in doing all that we do.

“We often tell people jokingly that we are not policemen but regardless of where the money come from. We believe it should be taxed and I think that was one of the issues at the last meeting in the United Nations (UN).

“We have had people talk about transfer pricing, money laundering, people talk about different revenue or incomes but the question that will be asked is that all revenues regardless of the topic which it comes under has to be taxed.

“The law enforcement agencies will do whatever they have to do, but the tax revenue originated from somewhere and was used for something. But the fact that it is not taxed…no revenue should go untaxed,’’ Fowler explained.

Fowler said that the FIRS would continue to collaborate and partner with the relevant stakeholders to ensure increase in revenue generation and better service delivery to enhance tax administration across levels.

He commended the Presidency, Ministry of Finance, the leadership of the NFIU and other stakeholder for their contributions to the success so far recorded by FIRS in the area of improve tax revenue collection.

Earlier, Fowler had received members of Financial Literacy Technical Committee of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), led by its Chairman, Oluwatoyin Sanni.

Fowler assured them of FIRS support in order to deepen the initiatives of the committee particularly, in the area of tax education and inculcating financial literacy on the upcoming generation.

Sanni sought FIRS support on its major initiative of including financial literacy on the nation’s school curricular and stated that the initiative would impact on the country’s development.