FIRS PROVIDES CLARIFICATION ON RECENT TAX DEVELOPMENTS AT A STAKEHOLDER MEETING

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Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) convened a stakeholders meeting on 6 September 2018, with key participants from different sectors of the economy in attendance. The Executive Chairman of FIRS was present to enlighten stakeholders, as well as answer questions and address comments from the audience.

The key issues discussed include:

  • Reconciliation of withholding tax (WHT) credit: FIRS recently circularised taxpayers, inviting them to reconcile their WHT position by 30 August 2018. Companies that were unable to complete the reconciliation by the set date, stood the risk of losing any unutilised WHT credit. Please see link to our initial alert on this.

The Executive Chairman gave the audience the comfort that taxpayers will not necessarily lose their unutilised WHT credit if they were unable to complete the reconciliation process within the short period allowed. He, however, encouraged taxpayers to commence the reconciliation process as quickly as possible for ease of administration.

  • Letters of substitution issued by FIRS to Nigerian banksFIRS recently circularised some banks to recover unpaid taxes from taxpayers that maintain bank accounts with such banks. Following the circularisation, there have been reported cases of some banks freezing the bank accounts of taxpayers. Please see link to our initial alert on this issue.

In response to the queries raised by stakeholders, the Executive Chairman clarified that FIRS directed the order at only defaulting and unregistered taxpayers (after conducting a thorough review of banks’ records to identify erring or seemingly erring taxpayers). FIRS considered the banking turnover of such companies their “deemed income” and levied tax thereon.

In addition, the Executive Chairman mentioned FIRS intends to increase the drive in its quest to capture more taxpayers and collect unremitted taxes. One of the major ways FIRS hopes to achieve this is by assessing companies to income tax based on deemed profits, which is determined by reference to the value of the property(ies) owned by such companies.

  • Improved efficiency: the Executive Chairman assured stakeholders of the commitment of FIRS and its counterparts in various states, towards improved efficiencies especially with regard to issuance of Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC). In this regard, the Executive Chairman advised taxpayers to reach out to the ‘Efficiency Desk’ of FIRS to make complaints in the event that relevant tax offices failed to issue TCCs in accordance with the provision of the tax law within the requisite period. This also applies to other complaints on perceived inefficiencies in the agency’s operations. All complaints can be directed to helpdesk@firs.gov.ng.
  • Annual passage of tax bills: The Executive Chairman confirmed the willingness of the Federal Government of Nigeria to pass amendments to tax laws on annual basis. The intent is to merge the amendments/revisions with the relevant Appropriation Bill for the relevant fiscal year.
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