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FIRS To Collaborate With Financial Institutions On Tax Collection


Samuel Sunday Ogungbesan

Samuel Sunday Ogungbesan

THE Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Samuel Sunday Ogungbesan, has hinted that his agency would collaborate with financial institutions, particularly banks, to collect tax directly from corporate organisations and individuals in the attempt to shore up government revenue from tax sources.

The new drive is expected to elicit the cooperation of the banks to deduct taxes due to government from contracts and other taxable transactions directly from the account of companies and individuals with Tax Identification Number (TIN) Ogungbesan, who spoke with The Guardian in Abuja, identified inadequate information on taxpayers in the country as reason for the low level of tax contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  He said the tax agency, under his leadership, will strive to enhance collaboration with banks for direct deduction of accruable tax from accounts of individuals, private and government agencies carrying out transactions like award of contracts or selling of property About 1, 487, 249.

Corporate enterprises and individuals were issued Tax Identification Number (TIN) by the tax agency as at the end of December 2013, an indication that a great number of Nigerians are outside the country’s tax net.

The new FIRS boss, who unveiled his vision for tax administration in the country, said his goal was to enthrone a system that enable Nigerians to willingly and happily perform their tax obligations, saying the use of force was primitive and could be detrimental to the nation’s productivity.

In line with this vision, Ogungbesan promised to encourage collaboration, embark on tax education and enlightenment to get taxpayers’ “buy-in for voluntary compliance than through coercion or litigation.” “ The reason I will adopt this approach is that I have realised that in the last 10 years, there have been a lot of initiative dished out to tax payers.

You have read about us restraining all their assets, and a whole lot of other interventions that we have done in other to help Nigerians to gain access. But the question is if today we are evaluating, we are asking ourselves how well have we fared; having sealed up companies severally, has it delivered the expected benefits? The answer is not always yes.

Stressing on the need to embark on aggressive but civilized tax collection drive, he said: “Oil revenue has been dwindling, non-oil is not increasing at the rate commensurate in an economy that has just undergone re-basing.

So, what do we need to do if I have problem of multiplicity of taxes like some states are doing? So, I thought that we need to strengthen engagement and I also realised that we are not collaborating well enough, we have the office of the Accountant General that could help us with the instrumentality of the platform, like finance platform, to get money with ease, we are not engaging well enough with them.

The IPPIS, which you are familiar with, is a platform that enables employment income to be subjected to tax and it flows into the account of government, beautiful initiative, but what do we have today, monies is locked up there and is not remitted totally.

“ BPP is awarding huge contracts out there and we need information from them about these people. We are not getting responses from them. FCDA also have records of people who are buying lands and properties, it is one government, one country and yet we cannot access their information.

If I have information on a taxpayer, he can no longer tell me lies about whether he is doing business or not. The first step is to introduce Tax Identification Numbering System (TIN).

As at today, only about 32 states have keyed in and what about the remaining four, there are three of them which are not on the platform yet due to paucity of fund and I think they are not poor because they get money from allocation from FACC.”

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