The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) has attributed the increase in Nigeria’s tax revenue in recent time to the gap close-up between oil and non-oil taxes.
Speaking to stakeholders at a KPMG organised programme in Lagos, the Executive Chairman FIRS, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, said that statistics have shown that tax collection has been shoring up Federal Government revenue and that the gap in collection from oil and non-oil taxes has been narrowed down in the last few years.
According to him, the effect of the fall in crude prices has reflected in revenue accruable to the government and projections do not indicate that there will be an upward change in the near future, adding that there was an increased focus on FIRS to close the revenue gap by improving collection from taxes.
Fowler noted that tax collection depends heavily on economic activities and income generated therefore, urging government at all levels to grow their respective economies, boost GDP and widen the tax base while FIRS would continue to engage taxpayers and adopt creative strategies to ensure 100 per cent voluntary compliance.
He noted that it was a challenge and opportunity for FIRS to put in place structures that could sustainably diversify the revenue base of government away from oil and towards taxation. “Voluntary compliance is the best approach for achieving operational efficiency and effectively managing taxpayers and our efforts are aimed at creating a system which ensures that the cost of non-compliance is far higher than that of voluntary compliance.”
“We will therefore continue to collaborate and engage with stakeholders so that our message of voluntary compliance as the first line approach for managing taxpayers is understood and internalized by tax consultants, taxpayers and all other stakeholders. We commend KPMG for this forum and the opportunity to share these ideas with you. We look forward to further collaboration with you and other stakeholders,” he said.
Meanwhile, following an appeal by one of the participants at the programme that the FIRS should use consultants in the collection of taxes, Mr. Bonny Okezie, Chairman, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), said it was wrong to use go-between in tax collection.
He, however, advised that the current Chairman should toe the line of the immediate past Chairman, Mr. Samuel Odungbesan, who did not use consultants adding that the use of consultants make the public to pay double taxes that eventually do not get the government purse. “The local government should collect tax and not remit to the state government because the public must be in the know, who is authorised to collect tax revenue,” Okezie said.