By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Financial experts have expressed the need to utilize the Finance Act 2021 to better benefit Nigerians and strengthen the government’s capacity through the instrumentality of taxation in achieving sustainable development.
Speaking on the theme ‘Finance Act 2021: Fiscal Imperatives and Sustainable Development at a webinar, organized by Joint Minds International, JMI, on Tuesday, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, ICAN, Mrs Comfort Olujumoke Eyitayo, the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami; the Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, Mr Ayo Subair, the Chief Host, Lead Doyen and Chairman JMI Council, Mr Tobi Abiola, and other top professionals in the Finance sector highlighted how technology has improved Nigeria’s tax administration system, as they discussed extensively on the merits and demerits of the Finance Act 2021 which President Muhammadu Buhari signed into law, together with the 2022 Appropriation Bill.
Prof. Godwin Oyedokun, Mr Albert Folorunsho, Managing Consultant, Pedabo Nigeria, and Mr Yemi Sanni, Principal Partner, Yemi Sanni and Co, harped on the essential principles of the Finance Act 2021 and canvassed taxation as an elixir for Nigeria’s economic woes at the sessions moderated by the Group Head, Strategic Tax and Compliance at Dangote Industries Limited, Dr Titilayo Fowokan.
Prof. Oyedokun recommended that the modification of minimum tax provisions for companies should be all-inclusive and be extended to other sectors excluded; following the cannon of taxation, the government should make good the issue of minimum tax as it sounds contradictory to the basis of taxation and the provisions of Section 24 (f) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the minimum tax rules makes tax to be paid when taxpayers do not make a profit; government should observe with all sincerity, the basis of taxing powers; changes to the tax laws should be on an annual basis to ensure that Nigeria’s tax system continues to evolve in line with changes in business and economic conditions; and urged businesses and individuals to re-evaluate their tax advisory, planning, and compliance strategies and modify where necessary by consulting professionals.
According to him, “Government has no business running a business because the generality of the wellbeing of Nigerians is the business of government. Revenue Generation will help govt pursue its agenda.”
Nami commended the ICAN President for playing great roles and expressed appreciation for what those who served on the Finance Reforms Committee did for the country, by making it possible to do tax administration seamlessly using technology, from tax filing, tax holding function, taxpayer education, to issues surrounding handling litigations in court.
Highlighting how technology has improved the operation of FIRS and the ability to seamlessly exchange information with other jurisdictions, Nami said, “Without that power to automate the tax administration process we will not be able to have access to taxpayer information, taxpayers’ data, for us to be able to police them for purpose of tax mobilization for the three tiers of government.”
He added, “It’s a small committee, but one of the most strategic in Nigeria. What they did in the area of power given to FIRS to deploy technology for tax administration, mobilizing revenue from all sectors of the economy. We were able to make it possible for Nigerians, particularly the investors who are already paying taxes to continue to do so without necessarily facing issues of increase in rates.”
Folorunsho spoke on how to calculate capital gain tax, by ascertaining what has been disposed of within the year, looking at the aggregate, and assessing it on 12 calendar months starting from January to December.
Sanni spoke on the right to deploy third party technology in taxation, as the panel also discussed the perceived ambiguity in Finance Control and Management Act, and anomalies in Capital Gain Tax (CGT), while handling questions on who should pay the tax between the buyer and seller when land is sold. The seller is expected to pay but government charges the buyer because it’s hard to pin down the seller after the transaction is done.
Eyitayo, lauded the objectives of the JMI which she said had contributed much to the development of accounting students across tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
The Finance Act Seminar was the 3rd in the series of the yearly review of the Finance Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Abiola, who told the over 3000 audiences how the journey began 32 years ago and what the organization has achieved so far, said, “Joint Minds Club was first organized as a final year accounting class group at the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro in Ogun State, Nigeria, in June 1990. Today, 32 years after, it has become a bonding force for thousands of students and graduates of Accounting from Nigerian Higher institutions as well as numerous professional accounting bodies in Nigeria and in the diaspora.
“The club focuses on Academic, Social and Professional Excellence, and it has been encouraging and mentoring students and young accountants into becoming Chartered Accountants since its inception 32 years ago.”