…As FIRS records 814,000 new corporate, four million new individual tax payers
…..Chairman receives ICAN awards, dedicates same to taxpayers, staff
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has applauded rare achievements being recorded by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Chairman, Mr Tunde Fowler, urging him not to relent on his efforts.
The commendation is against the backdrop of realising 814,000 new corporate taxpayers to the FIRS tax register and the attraction of additional four million new individual taxpayers to the Nigerian national taxpayer roll in 2016, which now stood at over 14 million.
Obasanjo spoke in Lagos after receiving a Merit Award in the non-members category from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) at the Institute’s Annual Dinner and Awards Ceremony.
Obasanjo said: “I appreciate all the honour you have done to me here. Governor (Lagos Governor Akinwumi Ambode). I really appreciate your presence. Deputy Governor of Ogun state, I appreciate your presence. And Mr. Fowler, I am really impressed by what we’ve heard you’re doing. Do more of it. Thank you very much”.
At the event, the FIRS received the ICAN Merit Award in the Corporate Body Category, in recognition of the agency’s in recognition of its efforts to grow Nigeria’s tax revenue especially non-oil revenues in spite of the challenging economic climate and dwindling of oil prices worldwide.
Mr. Fowler, who doubles as the Chairman of the Joint Tax Board, received the award and expressed appreciation to ICAN, saying the award is a recognition that FIRS has done well and it will spur the Service to do more.
While acknowledging that there are challenges and tasks in FIRS, he assured that the award has informed the rank and file of the revenue agency that the people have faith in them and promised not to disappoint the people.
Saying that the awarded is being dedicated to the various Chairmen, staff of FIRS and tax payers, Fowler explained that without the taxpayers and staff of FIRS, he could not have achieved the feat as the award is seen as a challenge to spur them to do more.
Before he took the awards, former President Obasanjo traced the history of how he was able to secure debt relief for Nigeria, noting that the lesson to be drawn from it was that ” it is only when we have a conducive business environment that the much needed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will flow into Nigeria”
Lagos Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said he was spurred to become an accountant to puncture an accountant’s claim that he cannot become an accountant. Ambode said he not only read accounting but became a Chartered accountant at 24.
Another awardee, Professor Kabiru Isa Dangogo said accounting is the only profession that will be relevant here and in the hereafter as each person will be asked to account for how each person spent his/her life.
The Bank of Industry, PWC were some others hounoured in the corporate category, while Lagos Governor (Ambode) Rev Dr. Peter Esechie Fridan Obadan and Professor Ishola Rufus Akintoye were among those honoured in the individual category.
In honouring FIRS, the Institute in a citation acknowledged the FIRS Chairman’s strides and leadership are winning plaudits on the continent.
Fowler was elected as the Chairman of the African Tax Administrations Forum, (ATAF), while the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana (CITG) named him a Honourary Fellow of CITG for his contributions to the tax institute and development of taxation in Ghana.
The Institute acknowledged too that FIRS— the agency with the largest concentration of accountants in the country (about 1000)– the won the 2016 Innovation Award of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF).
The FIRS Integrated Stamp Duty Solution was adjudged–in the whole of the African continent-as the best in tax administration innovation. The web-based portal-designed by the FIRS ICT department in conjunction with a Service provider, is a self-service tool used to calculate Stamp Duties payable.
FIRS, ICAN noted, collected a total of N3.3 trillion in 2016, amounting to almost 80 per cent of the 2016 target given to FIRS by the Federal Government.
The collected amount represented 63.99 percentage of the total receipts into the Federation Account.
This was in a challenged economy and in a year when oil price dropped to less than $50 dollars a barrel for over nine months and when the value of stocks on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) slid significantly and purchasing power was greatly weakened.
The general view by economic watchers, including multilateral institutions, is that FIRS performed creditably given the fact that many companies declare looses in 2016.
The Service also ran an amnesty and waiver of interest and penalty programme, which relieved taxpayers and fetched the nation additional N27.086 billion by December last year.
Also FIRS added additional 814,000 new corporate taxpayers to the FIRS tax register,-while the FIRS Chairman, who is also the Chairman of the Joint Tax Board, (JTB), led the Board to add 4 million new individual taxpayers to the Nigerian national taxpayer roll, which stood at 14 million as at December 2016- from the old national tax register of 10 million in December 2015.
The additional 4 million new individual taxpayers for all states and 814,000 corporate taxpayers for FIRS is unprecedented in Nigeria.
Apart from its own robust taxpayer education and campaign programme in five languages, the Service is collaborating with States Internal Revenue Service (SIRSs) on taxpayer education, data sharing and audit among others. The Service equally established the Federal Engagement and Enlightenment Tax Teams (FEETT) to engage taxpayers.
FIRS is rolling out several ICT based applications that are improving ease of paying taxes. These include online Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) verification, e-tax Clearance Certificate, (e-TCC), e-Stamp Duty and electronic notification of payment of Withholding Tax Credit notes. Also, taxpayers have started using the Service e-filing application to e-file under the Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS).