A Director in the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Ike Odume, has advised that there is need for Nigeria to designate some courts to train lawyers on how to handle tax related issues.
He said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the public presentation of a book titled: “Electronic Tax and Revenue Law Companion’’ written by Seun Quadri.
Odume said with the loss of revenue accruing from Nigeria’s dependence on oil, the only hope for the country presently was tax revenue which he added should be made mandatory.
“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 in addressing the many tax issues we have.’’
According to him, it is our mandate to support government development efforts through revenue.
“Basically, we usually have targets annually issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“In 2016, more than 70 per cent of the revenue was generated by the FIRS and it is still an ongoing process because we intend to improve on what we have done.
“What we are presently doing is to block all leakages. We have succeeded in blocking some companies.
“Companies are now committed to paying tax which wasn’t the case before.
“The case before, was that we had very few companies, but now more than 400,000 companies have been brought into the tax paying regime, thereby blocking those leakages.’’
According to him, 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.
This, he said was to ensure that uniformed taxes were collected to avoid multiple payments.
“At the National level, the tax policy says we don’t want direct taxes anymore, our revenue should come from indirect taxes like consumption and services taxes (VAT).
“We want to stop imposing taxes on people, they should pay taxes based on what they consume” he said.
Odume frowned on some Nigerians, who do not want to pay taxes, and blamed it on the culture of poor enforcement.
Speaking on the book, the author Seun Quadri said he was inspired because of the numerous challenges in the system.
“I have also been opportune to analyse more than 500 cases in Nigeria that deals on taxation.
“The book is an electronic tax platform which will aid tax experts, and lawyers to gain more knowledge on the way forward.
“There are many challenges facing 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.
“Many countries have a proper mechanism for dealing with the enforcement of taxes,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the President National Industrial Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo (OFR) stressed the need for Nigeria to have a legal framework as well as patriotic Nigerians to be placed at the helm to collect taxes.
According to Adeniran, there is the need to engage a superior court to handle evaders and educate them on why it is important to pay tax.
He, however, said that there was the need for the FIRS to regularly declare what they collect.
“We put you there and we have a right to know.’’
He agreed that the FIRS should be allowed to keep a percentage of what they collect but we need to know actual figures collected from time to time in order to repose confidence in Nigerians.
“We don’t even know the number of businesses we have or the tax cadre, so how do we account for what they got at the end of the day.’’