Over-reliance on oil revenue, tax evasion crippling economy, says FCT minister
Seeks stiffer penalty against tax evaders
Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammad Bello, has blamed the country’s comatose economy on over-reliance on oil revenue and poor tax regime.
At a tax seminar, tagged ‘Reviving the Culture of Filing Tax Returns’ in Abuja, yesterday, Bello lamented that only 10 per cent of FCT residents pay tax.
He charged the FCT Inland Revenue Service to impose stiffer sanction on wealthier persons in the territory, who default in tax returns.
According to him, the global economic downturn orchestrated, largely, by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the country’s mono economy, which is being impacted by unstable international energy market, contributed immensely to a reduction in revenue accruing to the government.
“These factors, coupled with a high inflation index, has put a higher-than-normal financial pressure on the government,” he stressed.
The minister expressed worry that only 10 per cent of registered residents of the FCT reportedly contribute to the maintenance and development of the territory by paying their taxes.
“We must begin to treat tax evasion as the crime that it is. High-income individuals, who provide false information on their income, should refrain from doing so,” Bello advised.
Acting Chairman of FCT-IRS, Haruna Abdullahi, disclosed that residents of the city only pay taxes, largely, when they want to transact business with the authorities.
The average number of taxpayers outside those remitting through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme has remained in the region of 4,000 with a significant percentage of stop filers, he noted.
His words: “From our records, the number of tax-payers under the PAYE scheme is about 120,000 with half the figure comprising staff of Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS) platform and those working for the FCTA and the area councils. This implies that 90 per cent of the FCT residents registered for tax do not file their tax returns.”