The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has called on Nigerians to cooperate with the Federal Government to ensure tax compliance and accountability in the country.
Chief Alaba Lawson, the President of the Chamber, made the call in Lagos at a forum tagged “Understanding Tax and its Effects on Nigerian Business”.
Lawson said that tax compliance among the citizens would enable them to hold the government responsible in its discharge of its duty to the nation.
“Paying of tax is a key civic responsibility of every citizen with a source of income and should that be done, the right to question the government should it fail in its discharge of its responsibility is encouraged,” she said.
She said that governance, taxation and accountability were linked together in the bid to achieve sustainable socio-economic development.
Mrs Morenike Babington-Ashaye, a former Chairman of Ogun State Internal Revenue Service, urged the government to effectively dialogue with citizens on tax issues, stressing that there should be no taxation without adequate citizen representation and consultation.
“As in advanced climes, the government has no right to introduce taxes or increase taxes without effective consultation.
“The citizens have the right to question the government on payment of tax when basic amenities like healthcare, among a few to mention, are not provided for the people.
“The Land Use Charge Law of Lagos State and the increase in tariffs by the government are examples which generated reaction from the taxpayers.
“Nigeria businesses have suffered silently over the years from tax abuse meted on them by various governments.
“It is no longer a master-servant relationship as the government and the taxpayer must wine and dine together to prevent issues which can affect economic growth, stability and social regression,” she said.
Babington-Ashaye urged government to study each sector of the economy and generate tax policies and laws relevant to them, stressing that everyone could benefit from the commonwealth of the society if tax was effectively managed.
Mr Adedayo Olaniyan, the Chief Account Officer, Med-View Airline, called for efficient usage of proceeds generated from tax returns on the part of government.
“Adequate and efficient usage of the tax returns would have a multiplier effect on the economy, but the mismanagement of the proceeds would result in a negative effect on the economy.
“As a result, bottom line businesses would be discouraged from further tax remittance should basic infrastructure which should assist ease of doing business after compliance be non-existent,”Olaniyan said.
Mr Tokunbo Akande, the Special Adviser to Lagos State Government on Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), acknowledged that managing a business effectively and efficiently in Lagos was an enormous task and that falsification of credible data posed a big challenge to taxation.
He enjoined entrepreneurs to be tax-compliant, adding that the state had introduced gradual implementation of the central billing system to erase multiple taxation.
Mr Cyracus Ekechi, the Lagos State Coordinator, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), said that FIRS generated N4 trillion revenue in 2017 from tax remittance and had projected N6.6 trillion for 2018.
He said that for ease of compliance, an e-platform had been introduced by the FIRS and enjoined Nigerians to take advantage of the platform as well as VAIDS initiative to regularise their tax payment.
Mr Oluseye Arowolo, a partner in Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Nigeria, said that the dependence on other sources of revenue different from taxation had encouraged non-compliance by taxpayers.
Arowolo said that a number of taxable persons had not been captured in the existing data base and urged Nigerians to take advantage of the VAID initiative.
He described VAID as a sort of an amnesty incentive programme for taxation that provided a workable payment plan without penalty or persecution.
Arowolo recalled that in 2017, the government went after 500 rich Nigerians who had not complied with tax payment to ensure that the man in the street was convinced that the government was committed to ensuring compliance at all levels.