Tricia Eseigbe Kerry of BOLDFACES international, the media outfit that specializes in motivating the down trodden within our society through its various TV platforms- BOLDFACES (“Counterfeit”, “Governator”, “Behind The Pulpit”) and
The Psychologist– On The Move Project. A media Advocacy campaign addressing Women/ Children safety, was at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) headquarters at Sokode Crescent, Wuse Zone 5 in Abuja to film an interview documentary for Nigerians to understand how the tax system works.
Mr. Fowler also doubles as the Chairman of the Joint Tax Board, he welcomed Tricia and her Boldfaces crew to his office and commended the team for their great works over the years and her media advocacy and sensitization of issues affecting our nation and its wellbeing.
The documentary featured FIRS – Executive Chairman Mr. Tunde Fowler, Mr. Abiodu Aina (Coordinating Director, Domestic tax Group/Special Advisor to the Executive Chairman), Mr. Faramade Ogunsanya (Director Efficiency), Mrs. Anita Erinne (Asst.Director-Enforcement Unit) and Mr. Wale Shonekan (Special Asst. to the Executive Chairman on I.C.T matters.
Since his appointment as the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Tunde Fowler has brought new technological innovations to ease the tax payer’s burden and provide the best services for taxpayers. “We at FIRS understand that taxpayers are very important. In view of this, as a service-oriented organization we try to make things very convenient for taxpayers. In the last 23 months, we deployed a lot of technology to ensure that taxpayers are served efficiently and effectively.
Mr. Fowler stated for many years Nigeria has been a country where a tangible number of the masses were not tax compliant. “It boils down to asking what Nigerians want from government. Nigerians expect to have electricity, security, healthcare, education, infrastructure in terms of roads and other services. People travel abroad for holiday because their government provide these amenities. If people were not committed in paying their taxes the government will not have the resources to provide services they are supposed to provide.
Fowler continues; “The primary duty of any revenue Board is to generate revenue for all tiers of government, many people don’t realize that the revenue we generate is shared between the Federal, State and Local Governments.
On tax registration and stamp duty, Mr. Abiodu Aina stated it is so much easier to register now as a tax payer in Nigeria than it used to be. Simplicity is the key here according him. It applies to either individual or tax-paying organizations, to further make things easier for tax-payers, there are also offices opened up to enable taxpayers choose which location is easier for them to keep their tax files.
Mr. Abiodu Aina continues, people who have documents they want to stamp can do it inside their bedrooms. It’s all electronic. We have also reduced the registration page from 13 pages to one page and a lot of transactions can be done online.
Mr. Wale Shonekan on I.C.T matters confirmed FIRS is fully computerized and also have access to Corporate Affairs Commission database “Stating its simple when we want to know those who are paying and those who are not paying their taxes.
Mrs. Anita Erinne also shed light on identifying tax defaulters and making them do what should be done, “we sometimes are unable to locate businesses, because they run portfolio companies, they do their business and disappear, she advised tax defaulters that with technology they have no hiding place.
Mr. Faramade Ogunsanya (Director Efficiency), spoke on enforcement challenges. “I believe that when you are running a revenue agency there are consequences, so for those tax payers who are not compliant after several discussions we have to embark on enforcement. That is one of the few things we started since Mr. Fowler assumed office. We are now tackling those who have ability to pay but do not want to pay.
Mr. Fowler explained that the bold step he has taken in his life is working for Lagos State and working with his mentor former Lagos state Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
His FIRS mandate is to reach 90 percent with its innovation. A number of companies have not been paying taxes for years and FIRS have to clear that backlog. FIRS hopes to reach about 40-45 million individuals in Nigeria with its services. Last year, FIRS moved it from about 10 million to about 14 million. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.
However, according to Fowler, “When we are in a position to fund both federal and state revenues then I think we are satisfied.”
Mr. Tunde Fowler introduced Tricia Eseigbe to the FIRS staffs and welcomed her to the family. During the event, the Boldfaces MD thanked Mr. Tunde Fowler and his management team for educating Nigerians on how the taxation system works in Nigeria, she stated that the Great Britain of today became great because of the effective running of their tax system and the commitment of the British people in paying their taxes.
The FIRS boldfaces interview documentary is currently showing on various local and international TV network including AiT, NTA, and Channels on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.