FIRS nets N27.086 billion from tax waiver programme

FIRS Headquarters
FIRS Headquarters

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, has said that the agency realised the sum of N27.086 billion from the waiver of tax penalty and interest programme.

The FIRS chairman disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja during the oversight visit by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance to the FIRS.

The N27.086 billion realised from the tax waiver programme came from the payment of a minimum of 25 per cent of the principal of outstanding tax liabilities between 2013 and 2015 and continued payment of agreed instalments.

More revenue is expected from instalmental payment of the principal, Mr. Fowler said.

The FIRS Chairman disclosed that 2,735 taxpayers applied under the tax waiver programme. He assured the House Committee that 2017 revenue generation prospect of the agency was bright, adding that FIRS would explore all avenues to give a better performance in 2017.

“The aggregate tax revenue collection for the year 2016 amounted to N3.307 trillion which translates to 79 per cent of the government target of N4.200 trillion”, he said.

Last year, FIRS gave a 45-day window, between October 5 and November 24, 2016 for taxpayers owing tax liabilities inclusive of interest and penalty for three years (2013 to 2015), to come forward and pay a minimum of 25 per cent of their actual tax liability and spread the balance while the penalty and interest are waived. Such taxpayers must present a payment plan on the outstanding tax liabilities that is acceptable to the service.

The waiver programme, which came after due consultation with relevant stakeholders, was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to reduce the burden of tax liabilities on taxpayers, promote voluntary compliance and shield taxpayers from the burden of carrying forward old tax liabilities accruing from penalty and interest.

The initiative is not only improving the ease of doing business, but has also improved voluntary compliance in addition to contributing to financial savings for taxpayers. Access to Tax Clearance Certificates (TCCs) also became easier for taxpayers who keyed into the programme.

Mr. Fowler also told members of the House Committee on Finance that FIRS registered a total of 814,000 new taxpayers in 2016, surpassing its target to register 500,000 new taxpayers by December 31, 2016. The agency would continue to work to bring in more taxpayers into the tax net as that would translate into more revenue for government.

“Last year, we implemented a nationwide tax registration drive to bring additional taxpayers into the tax net. We were able to bring in additional 814, 000 corporate taxpayers, exceeding our target of 500, 000 previously unregistered taxpayers. This was achieved through nationwide taxpayer registration drive, taxpayer engagement and enlightenment. We established the Federal Engagement and Enlightenment Tax Teams, (FEETT) ran campaigns on television and radio in five languages. We are collaborating with Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs on several fronts. With State Internal Revenue Service (SIRS), we are collaborating on engagement, education and tax audit. We signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with them.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Babangida Ibrahim, said the visit was to enable the committee understand the challenges the FIRS is grappling with, legislate where necessary and support FIRS to generate enough revenue for the nation.

Before the Committee members departed Revenue House to inspect FIRS new Headquarters building, they asked the FIRS Chairman questions on the nature of FIRS collaboration with SIRS, staff strength, areas of challenge and FIRS strategy for 2017 among others.

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