Babatunde Fowler, the chairman of Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has revealed that the tax collection agency generated N4 trillion in 2017, a 20 percent increase from the N3.32 trillion collected in 2016.
He disclosed this during a courtesy visit to Rilwan Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos, Monday at his Iga Idugaran palace, Lagos Island.
“The focus on the non-oil revenue sector, the adoption of e-services as a medium to achieve innovation, convenience and transparency of its operations to ensure that every effort is made to improve efficiency in collections and tax administrations,” Fowler explained on the increased collection.
Others factors responsible for the increase include the 45-day window from October 5 to November 2017 given to taxpayers with tax liabilities to come forward and pay 25 percent of the agreed tax liability. This according to him, helped spread the balance liability while waiving penalty and interest, as well as the collaboration of FIRS with Corporate Affairs Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Customs Service in a massive Nationwide registration exercise of new taxpayers in 2016.
“Also, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), which encourages voluntary disclosure of previously undisclosed assets and income for the purpose of payment of all outstanding tax liabilities to boost revenue collection.”
Fowler said looking forward, he was hopeful that taxes generated could be used to fund the economy of the country.
He was accompanied by the chairmen and members of the National Assembly leadership on tax matters from the Senate and House of Representatives, FIRS board members and directors who were in Lagos for a two-day management/ stakeholders retreat with the theme: “Optimising tax administration with parliamentary synergy”.
He thanked the Lagos king on his support towards tax payment.
In his response, Oba Akiolu said he had paid N350 million as tax to the coffers of the government, adding that he has the receipt to show for it.
He said he was in support of tax payment as he encouraged his chiefs and others to pay their taxes regularly.
He said self-employed people should be focused on if the country was to generate more revenue from taxation unlike the attention on salary earners .
He commended the National Assembly as he urged them to be patient with the President, who he said has good intentions for the country.
He used the occasion to advocate for special status for Lagos state as he brought out a treaty signed in 1951 by colonial masters that exempts the king of Lagos from paying tax which he disregards as he said he believed that government needs money to run the country.
He urged the leadership of the National Assembly to confirm the nomination of Mr Ibrahim Magu as the head of the anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), so that corruption can be effectively tackled.
Akiolu said the insecurity being experienced in the country could be prevented if the Police was paid adequate annual subvention unlike the inadequate one being paid, as he urged the legislators to look into the matter.