By Chinyere Anyanwu
The clamour for tax amnesty by operators in the Medium Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) sector of the economy seems to have yielded favourable result as their request has been granted. The window for the amnesty application, which closed November 24, 2016, has also been extended to December 31, 2016.
The cheery information was given recently by the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr. Babatunde Fowler, at the Deloitte/NASME Public Private Dialogue (PPD) on Taxation for MSMEs held in Lagos.
Fowler, who noted that the Federal Government gives priority of place to small scale businesses owing to its belief in their importance to economic growth and development, said the waiver for interest and penalty between 2013 and 2016 sought by MSMEs would be granted if they apply for it through the proper channel. He also stated that qualifying for the waiver would depend on the operator’s ability to pay 25 per cent of outstanding taxes.
He informed the MSME operator that government was “working on reducing the tax rate and I believe that before the end of the year you will be advised on the new tax rate, which will be effective from 2017, which will help your business.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who was represented by Hajia Larai Shuaibu, stated that government was conscious of the role of the private sector in driving the process of job creation, adding that it is out to encourage the sector by ensuring, “a reduction in tax rates for smaller businesses.”
Adeosun said, “the qualification for the lower income tax rate applicable to small business should be reviewed in line with economic realities. The income tax rate for small businesses should be further reduces as an incentive to encourage compliance and promote MSMEs.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the President/Chairman of Council of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Degun Agboade, said the importance of MSMEs in sustainable economic growth in developing economies cannot be overemphasised considering the level of attention the sector is attracting globally.
Agboade, who commended Deloitte and other partner organisations for their support, therefore noted “the need for a conducive operating environment for MSMEs, “urging that the current stagnation confronting the sector owing to multiple taxation, levies, fees, permits,” among others, “should not be overlooked.”
He explained that the PPD was aimed at generating solutions that would aid government in developing a healthy tax regime that meets its objectives of generating revenue as well as “enabling economic growth through MSME success.”