FG Douses Tension, Apologises over Reregistration Directives to Bank Customers

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James Emejo

The federal government yesterday apologised over a directive on its twitter handle and that of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) last Thursday asking all account holders in banks and insurance companies, to fill and submit a “self-confirmation” form, saying the message contained in the notice does not apply to everybody.

They had tweeted, “This is to notify the general public that all account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc.) are required to obtain, complete, and submit self–certification forms to their respective Financial Institutions.

“Failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.”
The tweets were backed up by an advertisement in some national dailies by the FIRS.
But the FG said the tweets were ‘misleading’.

In a tweet on its verified twitter handle @Government of Nigeria, the federal government pointed out that the FIRS would soon issue an appropriate clarification on the statement which was posted on its verified twitter handle @FIRS Nigeria on Thursday.

The federal government tweeted: “We apologise for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday (Thursday), regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons. The message contained in the @firsNigeria Notice does not apply to everybody. FIRS will issue appropriate clarification shortly.”
This is as the tax revenue agency subsequently clarified that the “ultimate objective of the automatic exchange of information is to improve transparency in Nigeria’s tax system and boost the anti-corruption drive of the government.”

In a press statement yesterday, the FIRS clarified its earlier tweets, saying only “reportable persons” are expected to submit the forms.
The statement read, “This is to clarify the publication for financial institutions account holders in Nigeria to complete the Self-Certification form, pursuant to the Income Tax (Common Reporting Standard) Regulations 2019 which is for the fulfilment of Automatic Exchange of Information Requirements.

“The Self-Certification form is basically to be administered on Reportable Persons holding accounts in Financial institutions that are regarded as “Reportable Financial Institutions” under the CRS.
“Reportable Persons are often non-residents. And other persons who have a residence for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction or Country.

“Financial Institutions are expected to administer the Self Certification form on such account holders when the information at its disposal indicates that the account holder is a person resident for tax purpose in more than one jurisdiction.
“The information that indicates an account holder is a resident for tax purposes in more than one jurisdiction is expected to be available to Financial Institutions during the account opening processes for the KYC and AML purpose.”

The federal government’s intervention is great relief to Nigerians who were uneasy over the new disclosure requirements, especially given that the banks already had their Know Your Customer (KYC) and Biometric Verification Number (BVN) credentials which are also available to the government.

Although the FIRS had stated that the tweet was a mistake, the published advertisement on the directive in national dailies had questioned its initial intention.
According to the FIRS public notice, “The Self-Certification forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures in line with the requirements of the Income Tax (Common Reporting Standard) regulations 2019.

“The Self-Certification forms are to be administered by financial institutions in order that the account holders may clearly document their respective jurisdictions of tax residence.”
The form is in three categories including Self-Certification form for entity, for persons other than individuals; self-certification form for controlling person, as well as certification form for individual account holders.