On March 20, 2021, FIRS announced the deployment of the Automated Tax Administration System (ATAS). The initiative was brought pursuant to Section 25 of the FIRS Establishment Act as amended by the Finance Act 2020.
By section 18 of the Finance Act, section 25 of the FIRS Act has been amended to empower the FIRS deploy proprietary or third-party technology to automate the tax administration process including tax assessment and information gathering provided it gives 30 days notice to the taxpayer.
This entails granting the FIRS access to your systems to enable them access your finances, incomes and expenditures to see whether you pay the right taxes.
It provides that the FIRS may use “proprietary or third-party payment processing or other digital platform or application to collect and remit taxes”.
Consequently, any person who fails to grant access to the Service after 30 days of receipt of the notice or the extension granted, is liable to an administrative penalty of N25,000 for each day that it fails to grant access.
For instance, if an organization fails to grant the FIRS access in 31 days after the 30 days notice or extension has elapsed, it means that the organization will pay the agency the sum of N775, 000 (seven hundred and seventy-five thousand Naira). The 25,000 fine is calculated to start counting after the last day of the notice or the extension given.
By section 19 of the Finance Act, Section 28 of the FIRS act has been amended to increase the penalties for a Bank’s failure to provide correct information or returns with respect to the filing of quarterly returns to the FIRS from N500,000 to N1,000,000.00
An Abuja based lawyer, Muhammed Yahaya who spoke to Nairametrics said these penalties are binding on entities and individuals who do business in Nigeria, whether citizens or foreigners.
“Yes, these penalties are binding on entities and individuals who do business in Nigeria. It is applicable to both citizens and foreigners,” Mohammed said.
The Executive Chairman of FIRS Muhammad Nami said earlier in the week that the Service seeks to achieve 100% automation of all its tax administration processes, which will block revenue leakages and revolutionize revenue generation in the country.
Mr Nami stated that the service had leveraged on the amendments to its Establishment Act to embark on major infrastructure overhaul, focusing on the deployment of technology for the automation of its processes and procedures.
What you should know about FIRS Establishment Act
- On 31 December 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Finance Bill, 2021 (now the Finance Act, 2021) into law. The Finance Act, 2021, which took effect from 1 January 2022, amended various provisions in 13 Acts of the National Assembly.
- The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is the agency responsible for evaluating, accumulating and accounting for tax and other revenues accruing to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
- To strengthen FIRS access to its tax information, it is now stipulated that individuals must grant the FIRS access to their organization’s information processing systems in a bid to allow the FIRS to install their automated tax administration technology.
- Other federal government agencies have been given the responsibility to report cases requiring tax Investigation, enforcement or compliance, encountered in the course of performing their duties, to the FIRS for necessary action.
- However, they are forbidden from carrying out tax monitoring, audit or investigation as stipulated by Section 68 (5) of FIRSEA. It is an offence for any other agency to carry out the function of the FIRS.
- Any person convicted of an offence under the provisions of Section 68 of the FIRSEA will be liable on conviction to imprisonment of five years or a fine of N10,000,000 or both.
- Section 50 of the FIRSEA states that both individuals employed to the service and others, who have access to taxpayer’s information cannot divulge such information to the public, and breach of this attracts a prison term and a fine.
- Section 50 of the FIRSEA 2007 states that “Every person in an official duty or being employed in the administration of this Act shall regard and deal with all documents, information, returns, assessment list and copies of such list relating to the profits or items of profits of any company, as secret and confidential.”