President Muhammadu Buhari has directed ministries, departments, agencies, parastatals and business enterprises to allow the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to look into their systems for the purposes of tax collection nationwide.
A statement from the FIRS on Thursday said President Buhari gave the order while delivering his address, as the Special Guest of Honour, at the First Annual National Tax Dialogue organized by the FIRS at the old Banquet Hall, Aso Rock Villa Abuja.
According to the statement, the President mandated the FIRS to quickly put all measures in place to fully implement programmes to stamp out Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and generally automate its tax processes.
President Buhari urged the FIRS to fast-track its digitalization of the tax collection process.
According to the President, “I have directed all government agencies and business enterprises to grant FIRS access to their systems for seamless connection. We all are now living in a fast digitalising world.”
He added that “business transactions are continually being migrated from “brick and mortar” locations to digital places or spaces. It is therefore incumbent upon tax authorities to adopt digital means to efficiently track taxable transactions for the purpose of collecting taxes”.
Also, President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Mr. Akinwunmi Adesina, who delivered the keynote address at the Tax Dialogue, assured the government “that the AfDB would support the FIRS to modernise the tax collection processes in Nigeria through capacity building”.
In her opening remarks at the dialogue, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamusuna Ahmed, said tax compliance was key to national prosperity, stressing that government was determined to minimise the incidence of tax dodging through such leakages as cross-border transactions by deploying technology.
In his Welcome Address the Executive Chairman, FIRS, Muhammad Nami, underscored the importance of the dialogue, saying: The universal collapse of traditional government revenue sources and the consequential resort to tax is a testimony.
“The well-known arms race among nations is gradually giving way to ‘tax-race’. The international struggle for and against digital services tax is just the beginning of the tax race. It is a race for all nations – developed or developing, and for Nigeria, it is ‘a must-win’ race.”
Nami stressed that the FIRS would match on to digitalise the tax process fully and canvassed the cooperation of the three tiers of government, the citizens and corporate organisations in the country for the success of the digitalization drive.
His words: “The FIRS started the journey to automation several years ago when it launched “Project Fact”. Several other initiatives were launched to further take advantage of evolving technology in taxpayer registration, online payment platforms, remote filing of returns, etc. However, there was very limited success with the various initiatives due to inadequate statutory framework.
“A quantum leap was achieved with the 2020 Finance Act which copiously provided legal grounds for deployment of technology in tax administration. The Service is grateful to the President, the leadership of the National Assembly, the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning and all other stakeholders that worked together to enact the necessary laws.
“The Service is taking advantage of the new law to embark on studies (with the assistance of friendly tax authorities and international tax organisations) with a view to developing a robust digitalisation roadmap. The roadmap will enable the Service to digitalise its whole operations (end-to-end) in a systematic, coherent and efficient manner.
“There is so much to look forward to in the coming years. The FIRS is starting this decade with the resolve to leapfrog tax administration into the digital age. Ladies and gentlemen, we are banking on your continued support as we embark on this onerous journey.”