President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, pledged Federal Government’s support for any viable initiative to improve tax revenue in the country. Buhari, who lamented that revenue from commodities, including crude oil, were too volatile and unreliable for the country to depend on, also called for the promotion of synergy in tax administration among the different tiers of government.
He noted that in most tax-efficient nations, tax administrative processes and practices were harmonised within a single system.Buhari, who stated these while declaring open the second National Tax Dialogue week with the theme, “Tax Harmonisation for Enhanced Revenue,” at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, called for improved tax revenue without necessarily raising new taxes.null
He expressed his administration’s commitment to an efficient tax administration in order to improve tax revenue in the country.President Buhari also expressed concern at the current tax system, characterised by fragmented administration, multiple and sometimes, overlapping taxes. He said: “In most tax-efficient nations, tax administrative processes and practices are harmonised within a single system. One key deliverable of this year’s tax dialogue is to promote synergy in tax administration among the different tiers of government.
“Harmonising taxpayer identification across the country is a good start, but we must do more to promote ease of doing business, including ease of tax compliance, in Nigeria.”On our part, we have started by clarifying in the 2021 Finance Act that FIRS is the sole authority to administer tax for the Federal Government.”This clarification became necessary in order to avoid taxpayers being burdened with multiple tax compliance obligations towards different agencies of the same government.”Multiplicity of tax administration is as undesirable as multiplicity of taxes; it creates uncertainty and instability; and above all, it is inefficient.”In the face of dwindling revenues from commodities, Buhari told participants at the tax dialogue that there was an urgent need to maximise domestic revenue within the extant tax policy and laws.He, therefore, proposed improved tax revenue for the country which will not necessarily impose new tax rates on Nigerians.
On Nigeria’s Tax-to-GDP ratio, the president declared that the country also needed to do more in securing a buoyant domestic revenue base of the country that bequeaths an enduring economic foundation, political stability and social harmony to the next generation.On the importance of the Tax Dialogue, which was instituted by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), President Buhari noted that the first edition in 2021 was very productive and integral in influencing tax policy, as well as legislative and administrative changes introduced last year.”
Why we organised Tax Dialogue
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the dialogue was designed to engage stakeholders in the Nigerian tax-space in meaningful discourse so as to glean information, ideas and experience in the aid of policy formulation and improved tax environment.According to the minister, the main tax revenue objectives of the Federal Government include developing an economy that does not lean too heavily on resource wealth.
The Chairman, FIRS, Muhammad Nani, thanked the president for his directive to government agencies to enable FIRS connect to their ICT systems; noting that this singular pronouncement softened the grounds for the agency to roll-out its system for seamless acquisition of data.On the remittances of the FIRS to the Federation Account, Nani announced that statistics from March 2022 Federation Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, meeting showed that of a total revenue of N803.072 billion from all revenue agencies, tax revenue contributed by FIRS was N513.522 billion (63.94 per cent), while non-tax revenue from all other agencies amounted to N289.55 billion (36.06 per cent).He noted that the average tax or FIRS contribution to FAAC in 2021 was 59.45 per cent.‘’I mentioned in my welcome address to the 2021 edition of the Tax Dialogue that the world had begun a tax race of which Nigeria must be a winner.‘’The revenue profile of the country in 2021 has clearly shown that our continued survival as a nation depends on tax revenue.
‘’This trend is set to continue for some time to come. As such, all hands must be on deck to support the tax system and make it function efficiently.‘’However, it is surprising that some people have begun to play politics with tax revenue generation.‘’We humbly invite the President to step-in to dissuade political tax gladiators to sheath their swords. Tax revenue is an inherently apolitical issue; it should be treated as such by all, irrespective of their political leaning,’’ the FIRS boss said.