By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) has condemned attitude of Nigerian elites who failed to give full details of their taxable income for accurate assessment and equation of their taxes.
In view of this, the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami, challenged the elites to be good citizens and live by example by making full disclosure of their taxable incomes to the Service for accurate tax assessment and prompt payment of their tax to the government.
Nami, who made the observation when he appeared before the House of Representatives Public Account Committee (PAC), added that prompt payment of taxes from citizens, including the elites, would engender rapid national development.
According to Mr. Nami, “the Nigerian elites must work to change the masses’ perception of us as tax dodgers.When it comes to tax matters, our image out there as elite in the society is that of unpatriotic privileged people who resort to all sorts of tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes despite making good money or returns in their businesses. To the man on the street, the typical Nigerian elite makes so much from the system in terms of taxable income, yet he or she does not pay his or her fair share of tax to the government.
“The belief out there – which is not without some validity and it is not mere elite bashing – is that the typical Nigerian big man plays the system and does not pay the correct tax on his income. That it is the less-earning population like the civil servants and other members of the working class in both the public and private sectors who pay tax, which is typically and compulsorily deducted from their salaries.”
The FIRS boss added: “Going forward, this should change.
The upper echelon of society must see tax avoidance and tax evasion as unpatriotic act, and stop it forthwith. The era where the Nigerian big man shirks his tax responsibilities to the nation is gone. It is a thing of the past as the FIRS under the current Board and Management will press everyone, especially the tax dodging elites, to pay their fair share of tax for the overall benefit of all in the nation-building process.
“Those of us in the public eye like the distinguished members of the National Assembly have a leading role to play in this regard, especially in their private businesses and in companies where they are shareholders.
“They need to show good examples by paying their correct assessment of tax and very promptly too in order to promote voluntary tax compliance across all strata of the Nigerian society. The elites must take the lead in this patriotic national duty to pay tax as and when due”, he added….