By Ben Umuteme
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler has said that the Service, in collaboration with other stakeholders like the Nigeria Police Force, will continue to go after wealthy tax defaulters in 2019.
Fowler, who said this on Thursday in Abuja when the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu paid a courtesy visit to the Revenue House also disclosed that the Service had realized the sum of N23 billion for its closer look at the books of over 45, 000 tax defaulters, each of which had over N 100 million as turnover in their accounts.
The Service, he said is going after another set of 40, 000 millionaire tax defaulters in 2019.
He requested the Nigeria Police to help the Service bring the tax defaulters to pay their taxes.
Earlier at the Management retreat at Eko hotels in Lagos, last month, Fowler spoke of FIRS’s plan to identify and tax bank account holders with over 100 million as turnover but with no evidence of tax payment: “We looked at businesses, partnerships of any activity that has banking turnover between N100 million and N999 million. We have done the review of this group of businesses. We have about seven more banks that we are still waiting for return from and to review their information. So far, we have 45,361 that have TIN and are making payments.
“We have 40,611 that have TIN, that made tax payment and, and we have 44,504 that have no TIN and no pay. So, when you look at it from a glance, we have close to 75,000 in this group that are still not taxpayers and we have said the payment of tax is not only for the civil servants. it’s for all Nigerians. So, the millionaires and the billionaires will pay tax on behalf of what is due to the national coffers”, Fowler said.
On Thursday, he added that FIRS had identified 45, 000 millionaire tax evaders last year, 2018 and recovered the sum of N23 billion through substitution of their bank accounts.
Fowler thanked the Nigerian Police Force for its support and collaboration over the years which he said has helped FIRS to achieve its target and requested for more support to enable it recover due taxes from more 40, 000 rich tax evaders in 2019.
“Let me put on record that the Nigeria Police Force has been extremely helpful to FIRS. Without the Police, I doubt that the Service would have been able to achieve what we have achieved. 2018 was a successful year. The FIRS collected a total of N5.320 trillion of tax revenue. This is the highest revenue collection in the history of FIRS”, he said.
This is significant given that this collection was when oil prices oscillated between $50 and $70per barrel. Oil price was at an average of $100to $120 per barrel between 2012 when FIRS collected N5.07 trillion. Oil component of the N5.320 trillion is N2.467 trillion (46.38 percent), while non-oil element of the collection is N2.852 trillion (53.62 per cent).
The FIRS Chairman said the Service has been steadily increasing revenue collection over the years with reduced cost of collection.
“In 2016 collected N3,307 trillion, in 2017 we collected N4,027 trillion and in 2018 we collected N5,320 trillion. Meanwhile, the cost of collection as a percentage of actual taxes collected has been reducing; in 2016 it was 2.6%, in 2017 it was 2.49% while in 2018 it was 2.14%.”
“The Service has been making tremendous efforts in also increasing the amount of non-oil revenue it collects. Non-oil collection has contributed 64.99% in 2016, in 2017 it contributed 62.25% and in 2018 it contributed 53.62%. This represents the government’s focus on increasing non-oil sources of revenue and the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
Fowler noted that various initiatives were implemented by FIRS to enhance tax administration and make taxation as easy as possible. FIRS deployed ICT initiatives that enable a taxpayer to pay taxes from anywhere in the world, at any time. With the e-payment channel one can pay taxes with the click of a button and one can also download their receipts. Other e-Services are the e-Registration, e-Filing, -Stamp Duty and e-Tax Clearance Certificate.
“Taxpayers can now also choose the tax office where they would like to conduct their tax transactions. Before now, if one was registered with a particular tax office, one had to conduct all of their tax transactions in that office. However, to make it more convenient for the taxpayer, they can now choose which ever office they wish to conduct their transactions with.
He noted that Nigerian taxpayers are embracing the modern way of tax collection, introduced by the FIRS through the 6-e Solutions.Said Fowler: We are automating the collection of Value Added Tax, VAT in key sectors which will facilitate reduction in compliance cost in the long term. We are doing System to system integration between banks and FIRS. And I am happy to announce to you that we had a 31% increase year on year in VAT collection in the banks that have gone live between Jan 2017- Dec 2018 and collected 25bn so far.
“Amongst others, there is also the Government Information Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), which links FIRS to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation OAGF for real-time exchange of information and data. We are also automating the payment of VAT by states through the State Offices of Accountant General Platform (SAG). This will ensure that we automate and deduct at source and remittance of VAT and WHT from State governments contract payments directly to FIRS’s account and so far, collected 13bn.
He noted that taxpayers that requested for and processed their Tax Clearance Certificate, TCC through tcc.firs.gov.ng, from the comfort of their homes. “Tax clearance on the platform grew from 9,574 – 59,350 within a year of introducing the platform.
“Auto VAT collection in key sectors has also facilitated in reducing the cost of compliance. Between January, 2017 and December, 2018 VAT collection increased by 31% which translates to a collection of N25 billion”, he added.
Resoonding, Adamu said the Police will continue to support the FIRS because the job of revenue generation is critical to the survival of the nation.
“We feel that the work you do is one of the most important for the survival of the country. And you need to be supported from all angles so that you achieve what you want to achieve to the benefit of every Nigerian. We will continue to work with you to improve security so that people would do their businesses here, make profits and pay their taxes. We believe that with the new Management team of the Nigeria Police Force, which is adopting Community Policing, we would be able to improve security”, the IG said.
By Ben Umuteme