Taxation: Self-Assessment regime has failed in Nigeria, says Fowler
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Williams Babatunde Fowler, has said Self-Assessment tax regime has failed in Nigeria, opting for elements of force to get taxpayers comply with the civic responsibility.
Self-Assessment is the system of tax administration where taxpayers are given the liberty to self-assess themselves and file returns based on their income. Under Self-Assessment, tax administrators will only go after the taxpayer if the self-assessment is not realistic with the expected income of the taxpayer.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said Nigeria is working out friendlier tax regime “to ensure that no one is left at the mercy of a bad tax regime”
Osinbajo said: “Our tax system requires reviews. The Government has set up a committee on the implementation of the National Tax Policy…Our aim is that no one is left at the mercy of bad tax regime”, Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo said the committee has marked five tax amendment bills and two executive orders that will go through approval process.
Both spoke at the opening of the 20th conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) Wednesday in Abuja.
Fowler said there has to be elements of coercion to get taxpayers to pay their taxes in Nigeria.
“In FIRS, we have self-assessment but we cannot rely on self-assessment. People believe that if there are no consequences to tax evasion, there will be no tax payment”.
Fowler, who doubles as the Chairman of the Joint Tax Board said FIRS experimented on Self-Assessment. But during tax audit, it was realised that the first 200 firms which were audited did not comply with the tax laws.
“Out of the first 200 firms we audited, none of them was tax complaint”.
As a way of encouraging professionalism, Folwer said from January 2019, only tax returns filed by members of CITN as tax consultants will be acceptable.
“Effective from January 1st, 2019, FIRS will not accept tax returns filed by non-CITN members”, he said.