The rich are embracing the Federal Government’s tax message – less than a month after billionaire tax evaders got a warning to pay up or face sanctions.
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has raked in N12.66 billion from such billionaires who hitherto refused to file their tax papers.
FIRS’ Executive Chairman Tunde Fowler broke the news at the weekend when he received Finance Minister Hajia Zainab Ahmed, who was on a familiarisation visit to the Revenue House FIRS Headquarters in Abuja.
Hajia Ahmed commended the agency for shoring-up non-oil revenue.
She said: “The Ministry of Finance will continue to work collaboratively with FIRS to support all the efforts that you are doing. And as much as possible, we should interface frequently.
“For us, the directive I have is to increase the tax revenue and that is the most important task ahead of all of us. You have done well. And the reward for good work is more work.”
The minister urged the agency to “maintain the tempo” because literarily, the country depends on FIRS to shore up the revenue collection to support the government.
She encouraged other government agencies to work together to fish out all corrupt individuals, adding that “this is President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive”.
“The FIRS is a very important agency of government. I wanted to underscore this importance. FIRS is one of the first agencies in the Ministry of Finance that I am meeting.
“The government’s Medium Term Plan is hinged on diversifying the economy from oil revenue to the non-oil sector. And the report that the executive chairman of FIRS has presented indicates that the diversification effort is working. This is reflected in the turn of the contribution of non-oil revenues over the last three years.
“I am happy that we have a team in FIRS that is not only expanding the revenue base but also significantly improving tax collection and taking tax offices closer to the people and making it easier for the people to pay their taxes by online and e-tax payment procedures that you have undertaken. And I am sure that, from what I have heard today, that you would continue with all these processes.
”I am also glad that you are increasing cooperation with several agencies, like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
“This is important because the directive from the President for anti-corruption involves cooperation within yourselves as well as with anti-corruption agencies. It makes a lot of sense to priotise tax collection to larger categories: from the big ones to other ones.
“The effort you are doing in Abuja, Lagos and Osun – on payment of taxes on property using their turnover as basis for assessment – is a commendable one and I encourage you to maintain the tempo in generating tax revenues.”
The FIRS initiated the substitution of the bank accounts of high net-worth billionaire tax defaulters about a month ago.
Fowler told the minister that the initiative has pooled about N12. 66 billion into the government coffers.
He said: “FIRS wrote to all commercial banks in May 2018, requesting for a list of companies, partnerships, and enterprises with a banking turnover of N1 billion and above.
“This activity is aimed at ascertaining those companies that are compliant with the tax laws and those that are not compliant. So far, non-compliant organisation has paid about N12.66 billion.
“The FIRS will continue to implement initiatives that will drive compliance and generate revenue by continuous taxpayer enlightenment, implementation of the Auto VAT Collect in other sectors of the economy, simplification of the tax processes, especially for small taxpayers, strengthening collaborations with other agencies such as CAC, States Boards of Internal Revenue, ministry of Trade & Investment, Nigeria Customs Service”, Fowler said.
The FIRS chairman also told the minister that the Service realised N2.983 billion from payment on demand notices on property owners who are being assessed based on their turnover and that 653 of 2, 672 of such non-filers have starting filing now.
From enforcement, Fowler said that FIRS has collected N47.5 billion from 2016 till date and $32.8 million, 5.9 pounds, netted N225 billion from audit and has collected more than N1 trillion above its January to August collection last year (2017).
He said that FIRS’ collection of N4.03 trillion in 2017 has 62.25 per cent as non-oil while oil was just 37.75 per cent.
It was 64.99 in favour of non-oil in 2016 and 35.01 for oil. This year, the FIRS has done 54.56 per cent for non-oil and 45.44 per cent for oil receipts.
Fowler added that Value Added Tax (VAT) receipt has been rising.
“So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected N773.49 billion in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2015 (N767.33 billion), and the agency is set to surpass 2016 (N828.19 billion) and 2017 (N972.30 billion) with four more collection months left in the year”, Fowler said.