FIRS cautions against politicisation of tax revenue generation

FIRS Headquarters

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has cautioned politicians against politicising tax revenue generation, and called for all hands to be on deck to support the tax system to make it function efficiently.

The Executive Chairman Muhammad Nami, made the call yesterday, while delivering his opening remarks at the 2nd Annual National Tax Dialogue, themed: “Tax Harmonisation for Enhanced Revenue Generation,” at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.

Highlighting Nigeria’s revenue profile in 2021, which showed a monthly average contribution of 59.45% by the FIRS to the revenue shared by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), Nami said it has become clear that the country’s survival is dependent on tax revenue.

He said: “All hands must be on deck to support the tax system and make it function efficiently. However, it is surprising that some people have begun to play politics with tax revenue generation.

“We humbly invite the President to step in to dissuade political tax gladiators to sheath their swords. Tax revenue is an inherently apolitical issue; it should be treated as such by all, irrespective of their political leaning.”

Nami also said the FIRS was able to record an unprecedented feat in tax revenue generation in 2021, as it surpassed its target and collected N6.4 trillion, the highest collection ever in the history of the FIRS.

Speaking on the theme, the FIRS boss said, “This discussion is imperative in view of the fact that despite our 38 tax authorities, several tax laws and numerous taxes or levies, the majority of the taxpaying public still remains outside the tax net.

“The tax-dodgers found it convenient to meander among the competing revenue agencies escaping their tax obligations. The result is suboptimal revenue generation at all tiers of government.”

Declaring the forum open, President Muhammadu Buhari said a key deliverable of the dialogue is to promote synergy in tax administration among the different tiers of government.

Buhari said: “Harmonising taxpayer identification across the country is a good start; but we must do more to promote ease of doing business—including ease of tax compliance—in Nigeria.

“On our part, we have started by clarifying in the 2021 Finance Act that FIRS is the sole authority to administer tax for the Federal Government.

“This clarification became necessary in order to avoid taxpayers being burdened with multiple tax compliance obligations towards different agencies of the same government.

“Multiplicity of tax administration is as undesirable as multiplicity of taxes; it creates uncertainty and instability; and above all, it is inefficient,” the President said.

This discussion is imperative in view of the fact that despite our 38 tax authorities, several tax laws and numerous taxes or levies, the majority of the taxpaying public still remains outside the tax net.

Stakeholders’ engagement

In her opening remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, stressed the importance of the National Tax Dialogue.

She said it was designed to engage stakeholders in the Nigerian tax space in meaningful discourse, to glean information, ideas and experience in the aid of policy formulation and improved tax environment.

She said: “We have observed that countries having lower economies and fewer tax bases but streamlined tax administration have fared much better than Nigeria in terms of tax revenue collection; and ratio of tax-to-GDP.

“The goal for this year’s National Tax Dialogue is, therefore, to kick-start the discussion for the harmonisation of the fragmented tax systems into a coherent whole for improved tax revenue collection for all the governments in the Federation.” 

In a statement, the FIRS also used the occasion to also celebrate and reward Nigeria’s highest paying and most compliant taxpayers, including MTN, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, NOCACO, Airtel, and Chevron.

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