Some tax experts have called on the Federal Government to explore data and intelligence in order to ease tax collection and improve its revenue base.
Some speakers alongside other panelists and government functionaries offered the advice at the recently held First Annual National Tax Dialogue, in Abuja, organized by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, with the theme “Taxation in a Post-COVID Economy.”
Also, discussants made a strong case to link the National Identification Number with the taxation processes to tackle the issue of tax evasion.
The panelists also observed that the funding threshold established for the FIRS in 2007 was no longer adequate for the Service to discharge its functions optimally.
Consequently, they urged the Federal Government to increase funding support for the FIRS so that the Service can complete work on its 17-Storey Revenue House Headquarters in Abuja where it planned to establish a data centre based on proprietary technology.
In his keynote address at the event, President, African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, highlighted the pandemic’s impact on Africa’s economy and the various interventions by the bank and national governments.
According to him, Nigeria’s economy shrank by three per cent in 2020 on account of falling oil prices and the effects of the lockdowns on economic activities.
He adding that “with shrinkage in oil revenues, debt service payments pose the greatest risk to Nigeria.”
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was chairman of the dialogue, lauded the FIRS for its performance in the 2020 fiscal year, despite operating in the most challenging period.
He said the Service not only collected N4.9trn in taxes, achieving 98 per cent of its target; only 30.6 per cent of this was attributed to Petroleum Profits Tax, from what used to be over 50 per cent.
However, Governor Fayemi urged participants at the event to interrogate how Nigeria can further deepen the use of technology to improve tax compliance nationally and across subnationals.
Also, Executive Secretary, African Tax Administration Forum, Mr. Logan Wort, harped on the place of technology in generating revenue for the country in a post-Covid economy.
Wort, who joined the dialogue virtually from South Africa, stated that “Domestic Resource Mobilisation is expected to contribute at least 75 per cent to 90 per cent on average per country in the post-Covid era.
He urged Nigeria to pay serious attention to e-commerce and the digital economy sector where big, trans-national digital conglomerates like Google, Netflix and Uber operate and make huge, tax-free profits as a possible way of increasing tax revenue generation.
He said Nigeria should borrow an example. from Ghana in e-commerce taxation, which is projected to fetch Ghana $450m in tax revenue.
The Minister for Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ali Isa Pantami, who chaired the second panel session, stressed that taxpayers should be treated as kings and canvassed better funding of the FIRS.