For the first time, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) crossed the N3 trillion threshold as it realised over N3.30 trillion in 2016.
The feat was achieved in year when crude oil prices fell considerably from the high of over $100 per barrel to $50 for the greater part of the year. But experts have attributed the impressive collection to the comprehensive depreciation of the naira, ensuring more naira was pumped into the federation account.
Speaking in Abuja at a traininv for journalists on tax reporting, executive chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Tunde Fowler praised the efforts of the Service for raising over N3.3 trillion at a most trying period in the country’s economic history.
Fowler stated that the FIRS performed the feat of “a N3.303 trillion collection in a challenged economy– in a year when oil prices dropped to less than $50 dollars a barrel for over nine months and when the value of stocks on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) slid and purchasing power was slim. The average oil price was about $100 dollars per barrel between 2012 and 2015.”
To do this, the Service he said: “We implemented a waiver of interest and penalty as part of the efforts of the Service to promote voluntary compliance and shield taxpayers from the burden of carrying forward tax liabilities that arose from penalty and interest.”
FIRS, he said, “successfully implemented a waiver of interest and penalty for three years (2013 to 2015). The Service, by this entirely new idea has so far realized N27 billion.”
The FIRS boss also disclosed that by expanding the tax next with a massive nationwide registration exercise of new tax payers, “the result is the registration of 814,000 additional taxpayers by December 2016 by FIRS and 3.4 million taxpayers by State Internal Revenue Services (SIRSs). By December last year, Nigeria has a National Tax Roll of 14 million.”
The federal tax revenue collector also attributed last year’s tax revenue realization to the ease of tax payment.
“Considering convenience, proximity and ease of tax payment, the asked taxpayers to file their tax returns at the FIRS offices nearest to them. This novel idea has increased compliance as it eased the burden of taxpayers who have had to travel from far places to pay their taxes," he said.
According to Fowler, another reason for the 2016 tax performance was the “improved collaboration with the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to ensure that MDAs remit taxes such as Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) promptly through the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS).”
GIFMIS is an IT based system for budget management and accounting used to improve Public Expenditure Management processes, enhance greater accountability and transparency across Ministries and Agencies.