AS CSOs in Adamawa, Sokoto, Borno, Kano, Plateau, FCT, Edo, Rivers, Enugu and Lagos benefit from EU-ACT

By Soni Daniel

DETERMINED to ensure accountability and transparency as part of its good governance drive in Nigeria, the European Union has engaged with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to deepen the knowledge of Civil Society Organisations on tax responsibilities and compliance.

The project captured under the European Union’s “Agents For Citizen-Driven Transformation,” ACT, provides a veritable platform for CSOs operating in the country to engage the FIRS on the tax regulations that govern their operations and how to ensure seamless compliance in line with approved guidelines.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has clarified that civil society organisations, CSOs, including non-governmental organisations and cooperative societies have responsibilities under the tax laws to fulfill their tax obligations irrespective of the nature of their operations.

FIRS and the Joint Tax Board, JTB, in a webinar jointly organised by the FIRS and the European Union-funded, British Council-managed Agents for Citizen Driven Transformation, EU-ACT, programme emphasised that CSOs have the responsibility to file tax returns and statement of affairs; adding that the tax authorities would demand payment of taxes from CSOs only when the CSOs were engaged in businesses and make profits from the business ventures.

Executive chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami, represented by the coordinating director, compliance support group of FIRS, Dick Irri, in declaring the webinar open, said that FIRS would continue to partner with stakeholders in its drive to educate taxpayers on their responsibilities.

Director of the tax policy and advisory department of FIRS, Temitayo Orebajo, in his presentation on tax obligation of CSOs refuted claims by some individuals that CSOs have no tax obligation.

“There is a penalty for CSOs for not filing and there is a penalty for late filing. Whether you (CSOs) have something to do or not, you have the responsibility to file. After one year you are registered, in order not to run foul of the law, you need to go and file at least your statement of affairs. It may be just one page document”, he said.

Orebajo said that CSOs include organisations, institutions and companies engaged in ecclesiastical, charitable, benevolent, literary, scientific, social, cultural, sporting or educational activities of a public character, adding: “all CSOs are expected to register for tax purpose and obtain Taxpayer Identification Number, TIN.

“The following documents are required for tax registration: A copy of the registration certificate issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, or any other instrument of registration; Certified True Copy, CTC, of memorandum and articles of association, constitution or rules and regulations governing the CSO; list and profiles of the Trustees/Board members nominated and other relevant documents.”

Deputy director of tax policy and advisory department, Olatunji Olabode, said that CSOs should file returns and pay taxes (where applicable) at MTOs closest to them or use the TaxPro Max Solution. He added that with the introduction of TaxPro Max solution, CSOs can file returns and pay taxes from the comfort of their homes and offices.

Corroborating in his presentation, Orebajo noted: “NGOs are required to register for tax at designated FIRS Medium Tax Offices (MTOs) in their respective geopolitical zones. For Lagos: MTO Lagos Island; For North-Central: FCT MTO Abuja; for North-East and North-West: MTO Kano; South-East: MTO Enugu; for South-South: MTO Port Harcourt and for South-West: MTO Ibadan.”

“Section 55(1) of CITA mandates every company in Nigeria including CSOs to file annual tax returns. A tax return comprises: an audited account, tax and capital allowances computations and a true and correct statement in writing containing the amounts of its surplus from each and every source computed; a completed self-assessment form; particulars as may be required in the form with respect to profits, allowances, reliefs, deductions required; a declaration to be signed by a trustee, director, secretary or any authorised person of the organisation that the information contained in the return is true and correct; the period for filing returns shall be as stipulated in the relevant tax laws”, he said.

A representative of the JTB and its Head, Legal, Nneka Esomeju added that CSOs who are registered as individuals or Business Names or any other law at sub-national level should also comply fulfil their tax obligations under the Personal Income Tax Act and relevant with the State Board of Internal Revenue.

“If any CSO is not registered or overseen by the FIRS, they should register and file their returns and pay taxes (where applicable) to the State Board of Internal Revenue. Not being registered with FIRS or CAC does not mean that you are exempted from taxes. She also clarified that any individual who earns income beyond the threshold of the minimum wage should pay taxes irrespective of the status of the individual.

Arewa Voice gathered that the programme also gave an opportunity for the CSOs to engage the Nigerian tax agency on parts of tax laws that concern them and how they could comply effectively and seamlessly. The European Union Agents for Citizen-Driven Transformation (EU-ACT) Programme works with civil society organisations, CSOs, to enable them to be credible and effective drivers of change for sustainable development in Nigeria.

Its work focuses on strengthening the system of CSOs, networks and coalitions to improve their internal, external, and programmatic capabilities.

EU-ACT works with CSOs in 10 states selected across the six geo-political zones in the country: Adamawa, Borno, Edo, Enugu, the federal capital territory (FCT), Kano, Lagos, Plateau, Rivers and Sokoto. The Programme also focuses on providing a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue for an improved, effective, and inclusive regulatory environment for the operation of CSOs in Nigeria.

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