FG’s Ban On Consultants From Tax Collection | Independent Newspapers Limited
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FG’s Ban On Consultants From Tax Collection

Posted: Sep 18, 2015 at 12:58 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler announced recently that the Federal Government has banned tax consultants from collecting tax revenue on its behalf.

He, however, said tax consultants would be restricted to gathering of data for the FIRS.

The ban on consultants from tax collection by the federal government although belated, is a step in the right direction.

However, the government should be blamed for engaging consultants to collect tax in spite of the fact that it was clearly a flagrant breach of the law. This reckless display of illegality and absurdity had over the years, contributed to the rising level of corruption bedevilling tax revenue collection in Nigeria.

We observe with dismay that in spite of the involvement of consultants in tax revenue collection, they still lack the capacity to effectively capture the growing number of eligible taxpayers from whom government expects huge revenue for the socio-economic development of the country.

It is unfortunate that rather than being a blessing; the involvement of consultants in tax revenue collection has become a “curse”. It is common knowledge that the objectives for which consultants were engaged to collect tax have substantially not been achieved. The much-desired levels of accountability, efficiency, transparency and productivity have not been attained.

We commend government for taking the bold step to ban consultants from tax collection. However, we urge government to rescind its decision to restrict tax consultants to data gathering for FIRS.

We strongly believe that if FIRS staff could be entrusted with tax collection, they should also be able to gather data for the agency. Restricting tax consultants to data gathering will tend to defeat the purpose of banning them from the entire process of tax collection. Involving consultants in data gathering is an additional cost that is avoidable. Instead, the FIRS should employ more staff and train them for not only tax collection but also gathering of data.

It is time to stop the consultants’ frivolous claims aimed at collecting huge commissions for jobs not done. Members of the Joint Tax Board and other relevant stakeholders in tax administration should be alive to their responsibilities.

The fast dwindling oil revenue largely due to the declining global oil price despite that Nigeria is the world’s sixth largest producer of oil, requires that government at various tiers pay urgent attention to tax revenue collection.

Factors inhibiting tax payment should be identified and accorded adequate attention. There should be periodic reviews and amendments of relevant tax laws to ensure voluntary payment of tax and increased tax revenue. Measures should be put in place by appropriate authorities to capture the actual number of eligible taxpayers across the country and encourage them to perform their civic duties without harassment. Any form of multiple taxation, which has been identified as major disincentive to tax payment, should be stopped.

There should be sustainable collaboration between the FIRS and the State Boards of Internal Revenue (SBIR), especially in the areas of sharing and exchanging information, data gathering, tax enlightenment and law enforcement. The FIRS and the SBIR should be strengthened and equipped adequately to enable them perform satisfactorily, especially now that consultants have been banned from tax collection by the federal government. We implore the state governments to replicate the central government’s wise decision in their respective locations to ensure uniformity in tax administration in Nigeria.

FIRS and SBIR staff should be of proven integrity. They should be well motivated, properly trained and adequately remunerated for effective performance. Any staff found to be corrupt should be prosecuted and if found guilty, penalized to serve as a deterrent to others.

We wish to remind the FIRS Chairman of the need to improve on his unprecedented enviable performance in Lagos State under the Babatunde Fashola administration by surpassing the target of FIRS.