The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) generated the sum of N4.012 trillion between January and September 2019. This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, on Thursday.

While speaking to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the FIRS Chairman disclosed that the revenue generated by the agency within the period rose by N77.89 billion, when compared to the N3.94 trillion generated in the corresponding period of 2018.

[READ MORE: Nigeria is losing $15 billion to tax evasion, FIRS boss reveals]

According to Fowler, the revenue generated so far in the year represents 61% of FIRS’ N8.8 trillion target for 2019.

Fowler said, “Our budget for 2019 was raised by N2.02 trillion, representing 30.4% increase over the 2018 budget i.e. N6.747 trillion in 2018 to N8.8 trillion in 2019.

“Our total tax collection to date represents 78.2% achievement of the corresponding budget of 2018. Based on the collection, we expect the total collection to equal N5.4 trillion by the end of 2019.

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“Non-oil revenue collection for January to September 2019 stands at N2.423 trillion, representing 72% achievement of the non-oil target for the period.

“Oil revenue collection of N1.588 trillion represents 49% achievement to target for the period.

“The total collection contribution in 2019 shows a percentage ratio of 61 per cent for non-oil revenue to 39% for oil revenue.

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“Non-oil collection for January to September 2019 grew by 13% over the non-oil collection for the corresponding period in 2018.”

Improving Non-oil revenue: Fowler further disclosed that the drive of the agency to develop more sustainable sources of tax revenue by shifting the focus from oil revenue to non-oil was yielding positive results.

According to the FIRS Chairman, strategies being implemented include Information and Communication Technology (ICT) initiatives, compliance and enforcement initiatives, international tax initiatives, tax amnesty programme and expansion of taxpayer database and other Initiatives.

[READ ALSO: FIRS establishes Tax Office for foreigners in Nigeria, intensifies compliance strategy]

Fowler, however, pleaded with lawmakers to pass legislation that would send tax evaders to jail. According to him, passing such legislation into law would make over 40,000 tax-evasive individuals and businesses whose turnovers are between N100 million and N1 billion to pay taxes.

Fowler statement reads: “Just a little over 3,000 of the taxpayers who have a lien on their accounts have paid N103 billion. In Nigeria, if you dare to pass laws that will send tax defaulters to jail, the 40,000 tax defaulters will pay.

“In terms of whether revenues cannot be generated by enforcement, we have gone over various programmes to bring people into the tax net.

“In 2016, there was a tax amnesty in which 5000 companies came through and paid N92 billion within 45 days. Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) was also N90 billion. 

 “These are businesses or individuals that have income but had refused to pay taxes. Currently, we have close to 40, 000 of those accounts under lien for which they have not paid any taxes.

“I believe that this is a crime and I think we are at that point now where we have no choice than to enforce payment. I did highlight earlier that 3,000 of those accounts paid N102 billion.”

Fowler had earlier disclosed that Nigeria loses the sum of $15 billion to tax evasion annually. He made the statement at an event organized by the West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) which held in Abuja.

According to him, the challenge to curb tax evasion was quite overwhelming. He noted that several information leaks released in the past years had helped in unveiling the depth and breadth of the challenge.

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