FIRS Harps on Expanding Nigeria’s  Tax Net

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By Peter Uzoho

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has emphasised the need to widen the country’s tax net in order to enhance government’s revenue.

The agency also said there was need toencouragthe youth to embrace tax culture

early in life.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the National Tax Debate organised by the University of Lagos Tax Club, held at the school’s campus, Akoka, Lagos, the Executive Director, Office of the Chairman, FIRS, Mr.

Abolade Kehinde, also decried the country’s low tax base, compared to other countries.

He noted that the current six per cent tax

to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio needed to be raised to 15 to 20

per cent, to drive growth in the country.

He said: “So today where we have the reducedoil prices, we must consider taxes as a revenue generator for government

otherwise no there’s no other source of revenue for government.

In Nigeria, if we’re looking to extend the tax base, if we’re looking to

develop a tax culture, we must deal with the youth. So, I’m very impressed by what University of Lagos are doing.

“One of the debate topics here today was: Should we increase Consumption Tax/VAT from five to 10 per cent? Now, I believe that

Valued Added Tax is actually a very important tax.

From an economic perspective, we look at what sort of consumption do we want to tax as

a country? In other countries for instance, they tax very heavily on cigarette, alcohol and some other things, and that produces huge

amount of revenue for government.

“We don’t necessarily do that in our country, although there are some talks about increasing tax on cigarette. But these are consumer goods

that are not necessarily healthy that we can apply more tax, but on basic goods and goods that the poor rely on, you either reduce the

rate or exempt the tax totally.

 

So, there’s a way in which you can make more money on consumption, and

VAT is often the highest amount of tax generator for countries in the

world but Nigeria is lagging in that area.

On his part, the President of the UniLag Tax Club, Hilary Ekezie, explained that the National Tax debate features students from 20

universities across Nigeria who come together to debate on various issues on taxation and proffer solutions and policy recommendations on those issues for the government.

He said: “Usually, the way the government is being run has been an issue for the youth because most times the youth feel like they’re not part of the administrative process of the government.

So, this debate comes up to like make the youth have a say on how the government is

run. The youth are coming up to say if there’s no platform for us we’re going to organise a platform with the help of the government and

with the help of other private parties, to have a platform to actually have a say on national issues.”