Experts call for special court to tackle tax problems

tunde fowler-firs
Tunde Fowler, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service

THE Director, Legal Service of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Ike Odume has called for the establishment designated courts and train lawyers to solve problems related to taxation.

Speaking at the presentation of the Electronic Tax and Revenue Law Companion by Funmi Quadri and Co and Seun Quadri and Co in Abuja, Odume said with the loss of revenue accruing from Nigeria’s dependence on oil, the only hope for the country now is tax revenue.

According to him, “If we can have some courts designated as tax courts to solve problems and also train lawyers on tax issues, it will go a long way to addressing the many tax issues which we have

Speaking further, Odume said, “The FIRS is charged with the responsibility and assessment of taxes and account that revenue to the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is our mandate to support government development through revenue.

“Basically, we usually have targets annually issued by the Ministry of Finance and over 70 per cent of the revenue last year was generated by the FIRS; and it is still an ongoing process because we intend to improve on what we did last year.”

He further noted that, “Presently what we are trying to do is to block leakages, we have been able to block a whole lot of leakages more companies are now committed to tax paying, which wasn’t the case before. The case before was that we had very few companies; but now over 400,000 companies have been brought into the tax paying regime, thereby blocking those leakages we talked about.”

Speaking on multiple taxation, the legal expert said, “The FIRS through the Joint tax board comprised of 36 states Boards of Internal Revenue have been able to harmonise the taxes that can be collected by each state so that there would be a uniform emblem to avoid multiple payments.

“At the national level, the National Tax Policy says we don’t want direct taxes any more, our revenue should come from indirect taxes like consumption and services taxes (VAT). Stop imposing taxes on people, they should pay taxes based on what they consume,” he said.

He said the work was inspired as he was opportuned to learn under Prof Abiola Sani and  Ipaye who are both authorities in the field.

Author of the book, Seun Quadri  said there were so many challenges to the nation’s tax regime, “but most importantly we need to deal with the system. The tax regime in Nigeria generally has lot of problems and cannot be dealt with as a single matter. We need a holistic approach to deal collectively with problems of taxation in the country.

“So, we need to fix the system. We need to create a business-friendly environment for investors to come in and establish businesses, we need to work on the various tax laws and legislations to ensure that they are fit for the kind of systems in which we are and we also need to deal with enforcement of taxes. Numerous countries round the world have a proper mechanism for dealing with the enforcement of taxes.”

Also speaking, President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo stressed the need for a legal framework as well as patriotic Nigerians to be placed at the helm of affairs to collect taxes.

The legal luminary who also stressed the need to engage a superior court to handle tax evaders said, “if Nigeria believes in tax collection, there would be no problem if Nigeria runs out of oil.”

Adejumo however lamented the fact that the FIRS does not declare what it collects.

“We put you there and we have a right to know.” He agreed that the FIRS should be allowed a percentage of what they collect but stressed the need to know. “We don’t even know the number of businesses we have or the tax cadre, so how do we account for what they get?” he added.

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