Muhammad Nami, the executive chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, on Monday, November 23, 2020, said the agency has raked in N4.178trillion revenue out of the N4. 239 trillion target it set for itself between January and October.
He also claimed that he inherited N38 billion debts from his predecessor, Babatunde Fowler which included about N20 billion official debts and N18 billion unofficial.
He said it is legally indisputable that it is the core mandate of the FIRS to collect Stamp Duties, adding that the first tax introduced in 1904 by the British colonial masters was Stamp Duties.
Therefore, he said the FIRS was not usurping the powers of any agency.
Nami, who made the clarifications in a chat with some media chiefs in Abuja, said the agency should be able to exceed the N5. 076trillion tax receipts for 2020
He said: “As at October, we have realised about N4.178trillion out of our target of N4.230trillion. This translates to about 98 per cent or approximately 99per cent.
“All things being equal, we should be able to exceed our target of N5.076 trillion by the end of 2020.”
On the allegation that his predecessors could not meet revenue target, he said: “I don’t think that is correct. I remember former Executive Chairman, Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru, and her successor, Kabiru Mashi met their targets and even exceeded them. But since they left office, nobody has come in to ensure that this type of performance is sustained.
“What we have done as a team, I don’t want to give myself credit because they are fantastic, is to leverage their experience of about 30 years, to see that we come up with strategies that will move tax administration forward. And one of the things we have done is to ensure that we deploy technology,” he explained.
He said his administration inherited about a N38billion debts officially and unofficially.
He said: “We actually met a lot of debts but like someone said, service is a growing concern. What we met was about N20 billion and what we have prioritized is paying them by installment. I think as it is today, we have gone past 50 percent. That is what we saw officially.
“Unofficially, we met a debt of about N18 billion which was borrowed from our Special Project Account. Today, I think we have refunded about N11billion to that account.”
Nami insisted that it is the prerogative of the FIRS to collect Stamp Duty because it is a tax introduced to the country in 1904 by the colonial masters.
“When you talk of Stamp Duty, we have stated our core mandate and if you define Stamp Duty, you will now realise that we are not usurping anybody’s powers. It is somebody who wanted to take our powers from us.
“If our responsibility as a revenue generating unit is to assess, collect and account for tax, it will be unfair for any agency of government to now say that it wants to collect tax irrespective of the way the tax is called.
“I want you to also remember that the first tax introduced in Nigeria by the colonial masters in 1904 was Stamp Duty. If this was the first tax and if somebody is coming in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 to say that this person or agency should administer this, I think it should be strange to all of us,” Nami said, adding that the FIRS was not “sleeping over tax evasion” because it is a serious crime being committed by big men in the society.
He said some service providers have been uncovered in Lagos for not remitting Value Added Tax, VAT, running into billions of naira.
The FIRS chief said: “Tax evasion is a very serious crime; it is a thing that worries us a lot. This is why we have a department in the Enforcement Support Group called Special Crime Department. We are actually not sleeping over it; we are not trying to ignore the fact that there are big men in this country that are evading taxes
“But from the way we are going, we have what we call multiplier effects even in business investment. We are a typical investment country, so it is one thing that leads to another.
“What I have done is to empower Enforcement Support Group to leverage technology and secondly other stakeholders’ collaboration for information sharing.
“We just concluded one investigation in Lagos. That was why I hid myself in Lagos for one week. We discovered that there are service providers, let me not be specific, that work for some of our taxpayers but they collect VAT and they do not remit.
“I can assure you that there are people that are so big in this country but assessments have been raised in billions of naira and sent to them. Like I said, it is an indirect tax regime that we are pursuing. We told them that they are only agents, it has got nothing to do with their income, it has nothing to do with the profits they made for rendering these services.
“They have earned 100 percent of their income and something (VAT) that is added on top to bring to the FIRS, they collected and kept.
“So, what we did was to attach the invoice for such organisations and asked them to give us the money. They know they cannot come near us, we won’t tolerate such things. And it is as a result of that the revenue figure continues to increase.”
Source: The Nation