Tax review committee wants Customs, FIRS merged

Customs Officers
Customs Officers

The National Tax Policy Review Committee has advised the federal government, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to improve revenue generation and accountability.

The recommendation was contained in the draft tax policy presented at the committee’s second stakeholders engagement on Tuesday in Abuja.

The chairman of the National Tax Policy Review Committee, Abiola Sanni, said the committee’s decision was informed by the need to improve revenue generation in the economy.

The National Tax Policy was first published in 2012 by the federal government to entrench a robust and efficient tax system in Nigeria.

It is not clear whether the government will accept the recommendations.

Taiwo Oyedele, who is a member of the committee, and the West Africa Tax Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Taiwo Oyedele, said his committee reached a consensus for the current system to develop capacity to check multi-taxation, tax evasion and wastage.

“Part of our recommendations was for FIRS and Customs to be merged,” Mr. Oyedele said. “But, not just the two agencies. All revenue generating agencies at the federal level should be merged into one.”

Mr. Oyedele said what is currently obtained in the system was grossly ineffective, considering the duplicity of the tax collection mechanism.

“All the structures in the FIRS were replicated in Customs, resulting in cost of collection going up. It also makes it easier for tax evaders to manipulate the system and get away with it. No one can provide information for Customs and FIRS.”

He said having only one revenue agency would ensure all information about a taxpayer were known when he or she has paid their tax, while ensuring leakages in the system were reduced.

Details of the committee report also included recommendation for the introduction of tax amnesty programme where some companies or individuals, who may have bene afraid to join the tax net in the past, would be asked to pay past tax liabilities.

However, a tax amnesty, he explained would reassure the public past offences would be forgiven, to help government expand its tax net.”

Other key recommendations of the draft policy included establishment of taxation committee at national, and state assemblies, administrative framework for amnesty and whistle blowing.

The committee said these were necessary to move Nigeria from its current 181 position out of 189 countries, to top 50 on the Ease of Paying Taxes World Report.


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