By Gabriel Ewepu
AS government moves to up-scale its revenue generation sources, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, weekend, reacted and called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, to reconsider move on its new tax drive.
CSOs’ in their reaction pointed out compliance with FIRS tax policy and recent directive from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, through the Director, Tax Policy and Advisory Department, FIRS, Temitayo Orebajo, last Thursday, asking CSOs to register and obtain Taxpayer Identification Number, TIN, from the agency in order to avoid being sanctioned under the extant tax laws.
It will also be recalled that Orebajo said this during a session on webinar, where he told CSOs about their tax responsibilities and compliance.
It’ll be wicked, unfair to tax the general income of NGOs- CDNDC
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “The NGOs in Nigeria implementing funded projects do have TIN and have been paying taxes on Staff Salaries and allowances, Withholding Taxes on services and purchases like any other corporate entities. Except maybe the FIRS is planning or about to introduce another regime of taxation, which maybe healthy and could severely impact negatively on the income of the NGOs.
“For instance, it will be wicked and unfair to tax the general income of NGOs and still expect them to pay taxes on services and purchases that will be done after. The desperation to generate money at all cost by this government should not be a reason to embark on double and exploitative taxation, which is capable of destroying services, businesses and livelihoods, including making NGO work very difficult.
“The government should listen to experts’ opinions on how to restructure the country and its economy for wealth creation and easy income generation via a fair tax system.”
FIRS move will hamper CSOs activities to humanity-CISLAC
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani who is also Head of Transparency International, and recently appointed Chairman Board of Trustee Amnesty International Nigerian and chairman Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, said, “However, if this development is meant to undermine and frustrate CSOs who are genuinely advocating for responsible, transparent and accountable governance in Nigeria it will surely not going to work.
“I think it is important for us all to understand the key issues here. CSOs are exempted from paying VAT or better still CSOs have a zero VAT charge and this is clear going by the law. This is because CSOs don’t generate revenue.
“It also important to note that CSOs are expected to deduct PAYE from salaries of their employers as well as Withholding Tax from consultants who carry out studies and the likes for them and this is also clear by law as these employees are not exempted from paying tax and this is where the need for TIN comes so that these PAYE taxes can be remitted appropriately and tracked and as it stands.
“CSOs like CISLAC currently have these in place in compliance with the law. It is important that no official or citizen confuses these two and I want to believe the FIRS official made an error or was quoted out of context as the law on this is clear.
“Moving forward, the public relations/media department of the FIRS should sensitize citizens and the public on these issues so as not to create confusion. From my own understanding, and available quotes of the FIRS official, the FIRS request for TIN is not new.
“CISLAC has TIN and we remit. I think it is important not to be lumping up VAT and PAYE together. They are all taxes, but they are different. The FIRS on their part also need to properly sensitize the media and citizens on these differences.”
The move is anti-people, continuation to shrink civic space-CN
The Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, said, “How can CSOs be made to go through tax procedure be paying, which businesses are CSOs doing and profit are they making they will pay tax on? Is tax not supposed to be from total profit?
“It is move we all need to condemn because it is anti-people, it is meant to regulate CSOs, it is to further gag and continue shrinking the civic space, and it is condemnable act.”
NGOs have been making returns, having tax clearance-HOMEF
The Director, Health For Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Arc Nnimmo Bassey, said, “This is not new. We have had TIN for some years now. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are paying any tax beyond probably something like VAT which we pay at point of procurement of certain goods.
“NGOs have already been making returns and having annual Tax Clearance. I think it helps the system to keep taps on financial flows in the charity circles.”