FIRS Moves to Capture Additional 25m in Tax Net

Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler,

Nume Ekeghe

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has intensified efforts in implementing some measures to help in realising its objective of bringing in an additional 25 million more people into the tax net.

The Executive Chairman, FIRS /Chairman Joint Tax Board (JTB), Mr. Tunde Fowler, said yesterday in Lagos that the plan would ensure that the number taxpayers in the country would rise from 20 million to 45 million before the end of the third quarter of 2019.

He spoke at the South-west regional inauguration of the new national taxpayers identification number (TIN) registration system and consolidated national taxpayers database.

According to him, the initiative recently launched in Abuja has the potential not to only increase the taxpayers’ base, but to also ensure adequate funding of activities of government at all tiers beyond aid, grants, and borrowing.

He said: “We believe that the new system will reinforce the laudable efforts of this administration towards building a robust tax-revenue administration system, promoting a tax-friendly environment and ensuring a sustainable and inclusive economy for all Nigerians.

“We are confident of this because the last four years have seen a number of modest milestones in tax-revenue administration some of which include, expansion of the tax base from 10 million to 20 million taxpayers with the potential for an increase of up to 45 million before the end of the third quarter of 2019.”

He said under his watch, the FIRS had recorded growth in Internally Generated Revenue of states by 46.11 per cent, from N800.02 billion in 2016, to N1.16 trillion in 2018.

Also, growth in FIRS collections has risen by 53.81 per cent, from N3.30 trillion in 2016 to N5.32 trillion in 2018; with the 2018 total collection of N5.32 trillion being the highest collection ever in the history of FIRS. Of the figure, he said, non-oil revenue, with a collection of N2.85 trillion, accounted for 54 per cent of total revenue collection.

Fowler also said the federal government had paid a total of N135.8 billion being outstanding PAYE tax liabilities owed by federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to states from 2002 to 2016.

A total of N33.13 billion out of the arrears was paid to the six states in the South-west.

“We hope that this gesture will encourage state governments to also promptly remit all withholding taxes and VAT due to the federation account.
“And a positive movement during the same period by Nigeria up 25 points in the Tax Administration Section of World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business’; it is expected that the country would further move up the rankings by the time the review for 2019 is published,” he added.
He said the new National TIN Registration System was in line with his desire.

“We shall be laying a strong foundation to ensure adequate funding for government at all tiers beyond aid, grants and borrowing.
“The new system while improving the efficiency and output of the entire tax administration process, is meant to provide a variety of convenience to both the taxpayers and the tax administrator.

“It is pertinent to note that the new system guarantees that each taxpayer’s details are readily available to them at their fingertips all day/everywhere.

“Furthermore, the new system also possesses the capability to integrate with relevant agencies and leverage on already captured data, deploy analytics to discover underlying and correlating trends and patterns that could lead to better visibility and increased Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for all tiers of government.

“This would significantly reduce the burden of manual taxpayer information management and by extension grossly crash the cost of collection,” he said.

In his address at the occasion, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, applauded the JTB and FIRS over the initiative.
“This new TIN registration system demonstrates the transformative power of technology as a significant contributor to the ease of doing business reforms, both at the national level and sub national level; and more critically also aligns with our agenda of leveraging technology to drive change across various economic sectors,” he said.

On how the innovation would work, the Executive Secretary, JTB, Mr. Oseni Elamah, said: “The new system is a web-based solution that offers access to authorised users to initiate TIN request from the comfort of their homes/offices real-time online, verify their tax status and print their TIN certificate.

“It is a transparent system that assures timely and accurate collection and recording of basic identification data. It also permits the tax administrator to understand its taxpayer base for effective revenue projections and other planning activities.