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We are putting mechanism in place to curb tax evasion – FIRS

By on February 5, 2015

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Tuesday said it is putting a mechanism in place to curb the challenge of tax evasion in the country.

This, according to the agency, is expected to boost the revenue of government.
This mechanism, it said, would plug every loophole and put an end to the problem of dwindling revenue, especially as the cost of crude oil has fallen more than 50 per cent in the past seven months.

Director, Medium Tax Department (FIRS), Mr. Peter Olayemi disclosed this in Abuja at a programme organised by Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP), in collaboration with Christian Aid Nigeria, with the theme; “Promoting Tax Justice and Equity for Pro-poor Development through Tax Education in Nigeria”, with focus on Bwari Area Council.

Olayemi who described the initiative as a welcome development, said: “We are trying to ensure that every persons that are supposed to pay tax are actually brought to the tax net, we can only do that through sensitisation, through implementation of technology to bring as many people as possible into the tax net.”

“Until very recently, most of our activities are manual based, we are now computerising our system, there is integration of tax system that FIRS is implementing, by the time the system is fully operational, it will assist the service to reach as many tax payers as possible.”

The director revealed that FIRS  is presently working with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to know all the companies on its register in order to bring all of them to the tax net.

Olayemi noted that most countries put in place systems to curb tax evasion and treat any case of tax evasion as a criminal one, but expressed regret that in Nigeria, tax evasion is being treated as a civil offence. He however stated that government is trying to take an holistic review on the tax system in the country.
“The 2011 Taxation Amendment Act has ensured that the president and the governors are now paying tax from their official emoluments. We are making progress”, he added.

He explained further that presumptive tax is the charge on income tax of individuals or body of individuals and also ensures that individual keeps records of activities.

He advised that to ensure equity and justice in the administration of tax, there must be documentary of record of activities of tax payers.

On her part, the organiser of the event, and the Executive Director CAPP, Ms. Kyauta Giwa said the programme was organised because people were being made to pay different kind of levies, without really knowing what the taxes are meant for and they are not asking questions.

She said there was therefore the need to execute a short project on what the tax payers are supposed to pay to the area council as levies, so that they could complain if they are wrongly taxed.

One of the participants, Mr. Ifeanyi Romanus described the event as an interactive session.

“We are trying to know the essence of taxation, we know that it is the responsibility of all citizens to pay tax, but when you are paying tax and you are not seeing the need for it, it will create problem in the society. We don’t have problem about paying tax but we don’t know what the tax are used for.”

“We are not going to pay anything until we exhaust all our grievances, then we will be able to pay the taxes. The tax are not being used for the benefit of the masses but for themselves,” he noted.