The Federal Government on Thursday in Abuja launched a new tax policy for Nigeria as well as a new Tax Identification Number (TIN) format.
President Goodluck Jonathan who performed the launching ceremony at the State House, Aso Villa said the TIN format would replace the former TIN being issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The TIN is an electronic database system for the registration and storage of data of tax payers in Nigeria.
Mr. Jonathan said the idea behind a new tax policy and TIN is to continue to partner with the populace on good governance.
“Overall, what we seek to achieve with the introduction of the national tax policy is to have a nation and a people who see taxation as a partnership with government,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan became the first Nigerian to be given the new TIN, followed by his Vice, Namadi Sambo, and the chairman of the Governors forum and Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi.
Mr. Jonathan says the target of the new tax regime and TIN are those influential Nigerians and critics of his government who don’t want to pay the right tax.
“Of course in this country, most of the social critics who come on television and radio stations and talk in the newspapers don’t pay tax,” he said. “If at all because they want to buy land or one thing or the other and the governors insist they must pay tax, they undervalue themselves.”
The president also took a dig at some Nigerians who find it difficult to pay their taxes even though they have the means to do so and stated that his administration is working towards reducing reliance on oil as a major source of revenue.
“Somebody will be travelling abroad almost every month, travel first class but the tax he will pay is not up to the tax a Grade level four officer pays in government. In other countries, those are criminal offences, but here, such people are celebrated as heroes.
“We want to create an economy that is self-sufficient and does not depend wholly on resource wealth to bring development to the people”. He added
On the new TIN, Mr. Jonathan said: “TIN is a revolutionary poll of tax administration and holds immense potential not just for expanding the nationwide tax base with consequence increase in revenue collection accruable to all tiers of government but it is also a big step in the modernization of the Nigerian tax system in line with global best practices and expectations”.