President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday said the Federal Government would deploy dynamic initiatives towards boosting the country’s revenue from taxation. He said this in Abuja at the opening session of the 21st annual tax conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria. The conference, which is the single largest gathering of tax practitioners in Nigeria, has ‘Unlocking the potential of taxation,’ as its theme.
Represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Dutse, the President explained that his administration was committed to diversifying the country’s revenue base through the use of taxation. This, he noted, was the major reason why key reforms were being implemented in the country’s tax system. He called for a change of attitude by Nigerians towards the payment of taxes, adding that situations where people deliberately refused to pay their taxes were inimical to the objectives of the government to grow the economy. He added that his administration was aware of some of the loopholes in the country’s tax system, noting that efforts were being made to change the narrative. He said, “Our tax system must reflect the nature of our commercial activity levels. Oil is just above 10 per cent of our GDP but it represents a disproportionate share of our tax revenue. “We will, therefore, develop a framework that mobilises revenue from the non-oil sector. Our tax system must be dynamic in order to respond to an ever- evolving commercial landscape and to increasing technology-driven business models. “As part of our drive to increase non-oil revenue, we have set an aggressive target for increasing tax collection. This is a reflection of the fact that the current level of compliance is low and in some cases, the effective tax rate paid by those that are compliant is lower than expected.” Buhari said his administration had been instrumental to critical reforms in the Nigerian tax system, through the introduction of the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme and the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme. He said, “On the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme, for instance, 5,122 applications were received, at the end of July 2018, when the Scheme had gone through a 12-month cycle and entered sunset. “Out of these applications, 1,006 made full payment, 1,613 had outstanding payments to make and 2,503 fell under those who did not furnish adequate information on their tax status. “Arising from these applications, N92.67bn tax liability was declared. N34.67bn had been paid out of declared liability. The outstanding liability of N56.81bn will be paid in instalments. “In all, 16,906 assets were declared under VAIDS. Of these, 3,317 are immovable assets, 13,771 are moveable assets, while 205 represented intangible assets and Investments.” Buhari said his administration was clear about the overriding need to use taxation in achieving its objectives, noting that the government would continue to give its support for increased revenue performance.