By James Emejo
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Muhammad Nami has said the economy is currently thriving largely on tax revenues generated by the service despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said tax revenues accounted for about N500 billion or 70 per cent of total revenue available for distribution to the tiers of government in July.
He also said the renewed focus on stamp duty had started to yield dividends as revenues had improved from N18 billion to about N80 billion annually.
Nami, in a statement by FIRS Director, Communications and Liaison Department, Dr. Abdullahi Ahmad stressed that but for tax receipts, the economy would have been in a dilemma.
He added: “Without this money, there will be chaos everywhere. You are looking at issues relating to COVID-19 and the impact it is having on businesses today. People are actually losing jobs but it would be worse if taxes are not paid.”
He further maintained that there would never be a convenient time for citizens to pay their taxes adding that bankable Nigerians have been paying stamp duty on their cheque books since the introduction of the stamp duty in 1939.
The FIRS boss made the comments as part of his national public enlightenment on voluntary tax compliance, especially educating the citizenry on stamp duty payments.
Speaking on the stamp duty, he said: “Currently, it is in the region of N80 billion. I can confirm to you too that a commercial bank which has not been remitting this stamp duty before now in the month of July alone remitted about N1.2 billion.
“So we are not playing about it. We know that oil revenue is not there. We know that we are in a serious economic crisis and the only way to ensure that Nigerians are happy with the government is to ensure that this money deducted from their hard-earned income but which is not remitted is remitted to government coffers.”
He said: “Nobody wants to pay tax but payment of tax is necessary. There is never a time that is appropriate for somebody to pay taxes. You can see it all over the world.
“This belief that with oil money we are rich is false. What you see the federal, states and local governments sharing at the federation account meetings monthly comes from the taxes paid by Nigerians or body corporate.
“At the FAAC meeting in July, the total amount shared among the three tiers of government was N696 billion. From this amount 30 per cent came from revenue generating-agencies like NNPC and Customs. The remaining 70 per cent which is almost N500 billion, came from tax money that you paid, including stamp duty.
“Without this money, there will be chaos everywhere. You are looking at issues relating to COVID-19 and the impact it is having on businesses today. People are actually losing jobs but it would be worse if taxes are not paid.”