By Rikki Nwajiofor, Abuja
In his unrelenting zeal to reposition FIRS and sensitize the Nigerian populace on the need to be tax compliant, the Executive Chairman of FIRS, on Wednesday, organized enlightenment training for Electronic Media Practitioners on Tax processes and operations at Niccon Luxury hotel Abuja.
While delivering his paper on the theme of the seminar, Mr Chimenka Ezeribe, an expert in tax processing and accounting, explained that the FIRS which was established by the FIRS Act of 2007 is an agency of the Federal Government charged with the sole responsibility of assessing, collecting and accounting for taxes on behalf of the government with a mission to operate a transparent and efficient tax system that optimizes tax revenue collection and voluntary compliance. According to him, “the core mision of FIRS is to deliver a quality service to taxpayers in partnership with other stakeholders and make taxation the pivot of national development.”
He emphasised on the functions of FIRS which are;
a.) Collect, recover and pay to the designated account, any tax under any provisions of FIRS Act or any other enactment or law.
b.) Assess persons, including companies , enterprises and individuals chargeable with tax.
c.) Assess, collect and enforce payment of taxes as may be due to the government or any of its agencies.
d.) In collaboration with relevant ministries and agencies, review the tax regimes and promote the application of tax revenues to stimulate economic activities and development.
e.) In collaboration with relevant law enforcement agencies, carry out the examination and investigation of all cases of tax fraud or evasion with a view to enforcing compliance with the provisions of this Act.
On this note, FIRS solicited for the maximum cooperation of EFCC while prosecuting financial crimes that surround tax evasion. EFCC should carry FIRS along in such prosecutions, bearing in mind that FIRS is constitutionally saddled with the responsibility of investigating all cases of tax fraud or evasion.
FIRS urged Nigerians to be tax compliant so as to enable the government fund most of its projects geared towards the betterment of our society. According to Mr. Chimenka Ezeribe, “FIRS is working towards automation of all tax processes, remittance and refund. This, according to him, is one of the aspirations of the Executive Chairman of FIRS as he targets to hit a tax revenue collection of 10trillion naira in this 2022”. He stated that “if Nigerians comply with their civic responsibility of paying tax voluntarily like the South Africans, as and when due, we will have the audacity to demand accountability from the government.”
While explaining the different forms of tax that are obtainable in Nigeria, he opined that Nigeria should introduce an “inheritance tax” which, according to him, will deter public office holders from embezzling public funds and amassing unnecessary wealth for their children to inherit.
Some of the participants raised some questions and suggestions during the interactive session. Rt. Hon. Rikki Nwajiofor, the CEO of The Prestige Media outfit, urged FIRS to embark more on advocacy and sensitization programs to further enlighten Nigerians on the need to be tax compliant.
According to Hon. Nwajiofor, “one of the reasons most people refuse to pay tax is that the government, at all levels, have not justified what they do with the tax payers money. If the citizens are quite convinced that the government justifiably and equitably spends the tax payers money, more than 90%of Nigerians will be tax compliant without compelling them to do so”. He equally urged FIRS to employ audio-visual sensitization materials and collaborate with Movie Producers to produce movie skits that will educate Nigerians on the need to be tax compliant.
At the end of the enlightenment training, certificates of participation were issued and presented to all the participants.