Fowler: FIRS will Continue to Work with AAAN

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By Bennett Oghifo

The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr.  Tunde Fowler has said they would continue to collaborate with the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) to the benefit of both organisations.

Fowler stated this in his keynote remarks, at the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) at the Golden Tullip, Festac Lagos yesterday.

He said, “The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will continue to be your partners in progress. You must have observed a fresh tinge to public communication and advertising from the FIRS, dating back to 2007.  Some members of this association worked with us in re-designing our logo, branding and enunciating a new vision and mission.”

Fowler said the theme of the AGM and Conference — Fresh Thinking—was apt, timely and carefully considered, adding the FIRS had been embracing fresh modes of communication in the last 24 months.  “Working with some members of your association, we will continue to vote for fresh, ingenious ideas that will strengthen the economy by helping to earn more revenues for the national treasury. We treasure the good work you have done and are still doing as well as your insights towards the realisation of our mandate.

“If ‘Fresh Thinking’ is a way of solving problems or considering situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unconventional solutions, then FIRS has been doing a lot of fresh thinking in recent times.”

He noted that FIRS has been relentless in improving its operations in the last 10 years since it became autonomous, stating that with the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), it had embarked on expansive modernisation projects that were resulting and would continue to result, in improved revenue earnings for the national treasury.

He presented some of the fresh ideas, which included what he called ‘Tax Amnesty’, explaining that “In 2016, the country celebrated the addition of N27 billion, to the national treasury from a novel idea: the waiver of penalty and interest programme. FIRS offered tax amnesty to taxpayers in default of payment of taxes between 2013 and 2015.”

According to him, “The Tax defaulters were allowed to pay the actual taxes owed while the penalty and interest were waived. This was with a proviso: that they declared their indebtedness, paid 25 per cent of the principal amount and present a payment plan on the outstanding tax liabilities, acceptable to the Service.”

He said it was now easy to File Tax Returns with Ease, stating that FIRS considered the convenience, proximity and ease of tax payment. “We have since introduced the idea that taxpayers can now file tax returns at any FIRS office nearest to them. This idea alone has increased compliance considerably.  Advertising was key to the realisation of this singular, but major change in more than 60-year shift in tax operational rules.”

FIRS, he said had also improved collaboration with the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to ensure that MDAs remit taxes promptly through the implementation of the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) which facilitates deduction and remittance of Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) on all contract payments at source.

On the taxation of advertising incomes, Fowler said, “Incomes from advertising can be from a trade or business regularly carried on and such income does not enjoy any tax-exempt status. An advertising company will be subjected to companies’ income tax on its profits. Tertiary Education tax will be paid where applicable. Likewise the withholding tax will apply as advance payment of tax. The employees in an Advertising company will be subjected to personal income tax through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system.  Where the expenses pass the test of wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred by a taxpayer who is carrying on a trade or business, such expenses will be deductible for tax purposes.”

He advised that “advertisement should not only inform, it should be inspiring, patriotic and socially responsible. All forms of adverts: product and services, public service announcements, political adverts, obituary/funeral announcements among others, should conform to the canons of advertising.”

Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Stephen Ayorinde, said AAAPN has contributed to the economic growth of the nation and to the employment of skilled labour.

Ambode said he looked forward to improved cordial relationship between the state government and AAAPN, saying “we are fast-tracking economic growth and infrastructure development to keep pace with the demands of an emerging smart city that will impact profoundly on your profession.

“It will require that you evolve new strategies that will serve the needs of your clients in the development and location of billboards and advert holdings in public space.”

He also charged them on the application of ethical standards in the development of advert concepts.