Abuja – The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it has started harmonising taxes in Nigeria as part of moves to reduce cases of multiple taxation.
The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Babatunde Fowler, announced the plan at a roundtable discussion on women and the informal sector. The roundtable was organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) on Friday in Abuja.
Fowler, who was represented by Ms Clara Nnachi, Senior Manager on Investigation, said that the administration would soon sort out all problems of multiple taxation in states. He said that this would give Nigerians clear direction of what tax to pay, alleging that many states hide under FIRS to tax citizens. “Some of the taxes Nigerians complain of as being imposed on them, especially on the market women, are done by states, not FIRS.
“The Joint Tax Board as a body is working together with the FIRS to harmonise tax collection from small businesses all over Nigeria. “We have the National Tax Implementation Committee working on the National Tax Policy to harmonies the taxes that are being paid in different states. “It is going to address the issue of multiple taxation,’’ Fowler said.
He expressed optimism that the government in a very short time would come up with policies on harmonised taxation. The tax boss added that the government understood what the people, especially those in the informal sector, were going through. He said the National Tax Standard Board was also doing a lot toward harmonisation of taxes.
With the bodies coming together in a short time, he said the Federal Government would be able to address the issue of multiple taxation. Mr Abdullah Candido, the Chairman of the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), said the council was also working to curb multiple taxation in the FCT.
Candido, who was represented by Ms Ramat Abisola, Supervisory Councillor for Education in AMAC, said many people parading themselves as the council’s staff and collecting taxes were fake.
He said that the council was working on ways to stem this act and bring the perpetrators to book. Mrs Ruth Agbo, President of the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), said women as traders and farmers were part of the labour force contributing to economic growth.
Agbo, however, said women were being over-taxed. “Most of the women in the informal sector do not have shops. “They are forced to trade outside but they are still taxed by different tax collectors. “The taxes are many; sometimes, the women cannot complain because of ignorance.
“Many of them live on daily proceeds and because they want to survive, they are compelled to pay multiple taxes,’’ she said. Agbo also appealed to the government to build more shops for women as well provide them grants to expand their business while checking exorbitant taxes.
Frank Tietie, Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), said women were facing untold economic hardship. “It is not really the formal taxation that the women are complaining about, it is the multiple and indiscriminate taxation by various authorities. “Women are subjected to different kinds of hardship and this makes life difficult for them,’’ he said.
He advocated for a conscious government effort focusing on women development and improved living condition. (NAN)