Tunde Fowler
Tunde Fowler

FEDERAL Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) said it has generated N2.7trn revenue from oil and non-oil sources as at September 2016 which represents 81 percent of the third quarter cumulative target of 3.12tr in the 2016 budget. Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, disclosed this in an exclusive interview weekend in Abuja. Fowler said the agency recorded more increase in tax collection from the nonoil revenue sector, with the largest chunk coming from the telecommunications and multinational companies. “We have seen an increase in non-oil revenue. In terms of percentages, non-oil contribution, out of the total revenue target, is about 70 percent. In Naira terms, as of September we had achieved about 81 per cent of our contributions to this year’s budget. The total amount collected was about N2.7trillion, which is 81 percent of the third quarter cumulative budget,” he said. He said the FIRS had been able to achieve this by expanding the tax net and compelling a number of companies that have the financial capacity but not interested in paying tax, to pay tax. “A few of the companies that didn’t have the capacity to pay their accruing taxes, we gave repayment plans. [Our plans] have not really affected their businesses as an ongoing concern. It wasn’t a situation whereby we shut down companies and they laid off staff. They are still operating their businesses so that they can still pay their taxes,” he said. Fowler announced that the FIRS had granted tax amnesty stretching back to three years (2013-2015) to all tax payers in default, provided that such defaulting tax payers came forward to declare their indebtedness and present payment plans on the outstanding principal tax liability. “After the amnesty is over on the November 24, 2016, we will start to charge the chairmen, Chief Executive Officers, financial controllers, etc of these organizations to court in their personal capacity, especially when it comes to the area of Value Added Tax (VAT). When a consumer pays VAT, instead of the organisations to send the money to government they decide to keep them. That is outright theft,” he said. On the controversial communications tax bill which continues generate a debate, he said; “If you look at it the world over a lot of countries have similar taxes. It is a tax that you incur based on your consumption. If you don’t have the wealth to talk for one hour then you won’t be taxed on that amount, but if you have the ability to have extensive discussions, then that also assumes that you have the ability to pay the additional tax,” he explained.
The FIRS boss said though Nigeria has the lowest VAT level in Africa and one of the lowest in the world. However, government is mindful of the present state of the economy in the country so it would not increase VAT from what it is at the moment.
“If you increase the VAT level in the county to 10% right now, it will mean that those who are currently in the tax net, those who have been remitting VAT collected, will be unduly treated. My feeling is that we should get a least a 90% level of compliance of
everybody paying and remitting VAT.” He listed innovation brought into the tax system by the FIRS to include setting up offices closer to tax payers for their convenience and improved tax administration through the use of technology.

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