From Uche Usim, Abuja
Despite the scorching economic climate of last year, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Tuesday disclosed that it collected N4. 95trillion total tax revenue.
The feat represented approximately 98 per cent of the national tax target of N5.076 trillion set for the FIRS by the Federal Government.
This was disclosed by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Muhammad Nami, during a press conference in his office. While briefing the press, Nami pointed out that this near 100 per cent collection feat was all the more remarkable when placed against the backdrop of the debilitating effects of COVID-19 on the Nigerian economy; the all-time low price of crude oil in the international market; business disruptions and lootings during the #EndSars protests; generous tax waivers granted by the FIRS to ease the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown; additional tax exemptions granted to small companies in the 2019 Finance Act; and insecurity in some parts of the country.
While analysing the significance of the 2020 performance, he explained that the FIRS recorded this feat at a time when the price of oil hit an all-time low. In other words, oil which used to contribute over 50 per cent in tax returns through the Petroleum Profits Tax in previous years, accounted for only 30.6 per cent contribution to the tax revenue generated in 2020. He also added that the non-oil tax collection was 109 per cent in 2020, which is 9 per cent higher than the previous year.
Nami attributed the FIRS revenue generation success in 2020 to a number of reforms initiated by the Board and Management of the Service under his leadership. The reforms included capacity building for members of the staff; improved staff welfare package; promotion and proper placement of staff; deployment of appropriate technology for tax operations; segmentation of taxpayers to ease tax compliance; and continuous collaboration with relevant stakeholders, among others.
Nami commended “the conscientious taxpayers in the country and dedicated members of staff of the FIRS nationwide for their support and devotion to work which made this performance possible despite the numerous obstacles encountered by the Service in 2020”. He added: “The FIRS is optimistic this current fiscal year 2021 will be better than 2020. We shall perform exceedingly well given that our Service reforms are expected to yield greater dividends, especially as different parts of tax administration are being automated. We are also optimistic that exploration activities will improve in the oil sector and increase the prospect of higher tax revenue from the sector.