Deloitte Predicts Automation Transforming Tax Administration in Nigeria

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Citing a new study conducted by Deloitte, its experts believe the next five years could be significant for many organisations as the professional environment becomes almost overwhelmed by rapid change, with an increased demand on the time and energy of those practicing in it. Technology is also expected to impact satisfaction level positively.

In view of this, the expert urged the current administration of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to carry out more digital-based reforms.

Head, International Tax at FIRS, Matthew Gbonjubola, who also saw the need increased digital-based reforms, noted that some progress has been made through digitalising significant aspect of tax administration in Nigeria. For instance primary tax legislations are being reviewed to have a single tax administration law. FIRS has also commenced the publishing of the country-by-country regulation report as well as other tax guidelines that has helped ease the problem of clarity around tax administration in the country.

“We are modernising and introducing technology in tax reforms to plug revenue leakages,” Gbonjubola, said at a Deloitte Nigeria Tax Breakfast Dialogue, which held recently in Lagos.

However, some stakeholders believe the tax regulator is not doing enough to reduce the challenges companies face with regards to compliance. Hence, automating every step in the tax process could go a long way in removing the bottlenecks.

Automation is also seen as the way forward for companies that intend to efficiently plug every leakage.

Partner and West Africa Tax Leader at Deloitte, Yomi Olugbenro, said: “With the increasing regulatory environment, companies cannot be looking at making money and allowing leakages. They need to leverage technology because that is the only way they can be accurate and avoid time wasting.”

Digital Leader, Africa Tax and Legal at Deloitte, Mark Freer, highlighted five digital trends that would define the future of tax and the legal profession.

There is big data as organisations and authorities begin to critically analyse the data in their possession and to leverage the insights for better tax services. Second, is the process automation which requires robotic automation and integration of financial and other systems. Third is decision making, as artificial intelligence in integrated in compliance and consulting capabilities. The fourth trend is democratisation of knowledge. More people are gaining access to large information as result of the different new channels that now exist. The fifth trend Freer highlighted as open networks which speak to talent sourcing, crowd problem-solving and sharing ecosystems.

“Tax teams are no longer entirely based on traditional or full-time employees. However, crowdsourcing or open talent models in the tax and legal market seem further off when compared to the use of IT graphic design and finance,” Freer noted.

Olugbenro further explained that the chief tax officer should be part of the conversation at the highest level. It is also important that conversation also get more strategic, beyond just filing tax returns.