President Muhammadu Buhari insisted on Tuesday that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is the sole authority to collect value added tax (VAT) for the federal government.
Mr. Buhari took the floor in Abuja when he declared open the second National Tax Dialogue Week, under the theme: “Tax Harmonization for Better Revenue Generation”.
Mr. Buhari expressed his regime’s commitment to effective tax administration in the country.
“On our side, we started by specifying in the 2021 budget law that the FIRS is the only authority in charge of administering taxes for the federal government,” he said.
Last year, the Rivers State government took the federal government to court over the collection of VAT in the state.
But Mr Buhari said it was pertinent to provide clarification to avoid taxpayers being burdened with multiple tax compliance obligations.
He expressed concern that the country’s current tax system is characterized by fragmented administration, multiple and sometimes overlapping taxes.
“In most tax-efficient countries, tax administration processes and practices are harmonized within a single system.
“Multiplicity of tax administration is as undesirable as multiplicity of taxes, it creates uncertainty and instability and above all, it is inefficient,” the president said.
Mr. Buhari also underscored the need to maximize domestic revenues within the framework of existing tax policy and laws in the face of dwindling commodity revenues.
He therefore proposed an improvement in tax revenue for the country that would not necessarily impose new tax rates on Nigerians.
“We all know that good intentions are not enough because they simply cannot pay for infrastructure, security or social amenities. It is therefore necessary to improve tax revenues without necessarily increasing new taxes.
“Commodity revenues, including crude oil, are too volatile and unreliable. Therefore, I pledge government support for any viable tax revenue improvement initiative that should emanate from this dialogue,” he said.
On Nigeria’s tax to GDP ratio, the President said the country also needed to do more to ensure a vibrant domestic revenue base for the country.
This, he said, will bequeath a sustainable economic base, political stability and social harmony to the next generation.