THE Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has described the unconventional method deployed by authorities at the local government level to collect tolls as an impediment to effective tax administration in the country.
The Executive Chairman of the agency, Mr. Muhammad Mamman Nami, made this observation, recently, at a virtual public-private dialogue session, hosted and organized by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in partnership with the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
Nami, who was represented at the event by the agency’s Director of Policy, Mr Matthew Mogbonjubola, argued that besides the crude and unusual methods being employed, some of those toll collectors were not actually officials of the local government.
He described the activities of those toll collectors as capable of eroding whatever confidence the citizens might have in the nation’s tax administration.
While describing the business of tax administration in the country as ‘very difficult’, the FIRS boss called for a harmonisation of tax collec- tions in the country, as a way of checking multiple taxation, saving businesses from constant harassment from state’s agents, and further bringing more people into the tax net.
“The business of tax administration is very difficult, in Nigeria, whether at federal, state or local government level.
“Besides, we still have a major issue. Those who collect tolls on behalf of local government authorities. How do we deal with them? Those ones that block the road using planks and nails. More worrisome is the fact that most of them are not even agencies of the state. But we still have to pass through them.
“These are some of the challenges that confront tax administration at any level. But, we should find a way to harmonise all the taxes, state and federal,” he argued.
The FIRS boss also expressed regrets that despite several campaigns and efforts at educating corporate organisations on tax matters, many of them, especially the small and medium scale enterprises, still pay little attention to the issue.
He added that only the big companies, constituting a negligible number of corporate organisations in the country, always aspire to meet their tax obligations.
“A lot of businesses are not really willing to pay tax. They’ll ask you what they’ve done with the ones they and others have been paying,” he stated.
In her welcome address, the President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, explained that the FIRS report was a product of a survey on transactional accountability, process consistency, and operational transparency, conducted by the Chamber, in conjunction with the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
She added that the survey, with focus on federal regulatory agencies, was designed to help deepen the nation’s regulatory space, and address vital issues bothering MSMEs in the country.