Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has asked Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) to stop appointing consultants and concessionaires as tax collectors.
According to the organization, the practice was illegal, saying that the FIRS remained the sole agency of government saddled with the responsibility of tax collection.
In a Public Notice it issued by Executive Chairman, Mr. Muhammad Nami, the FIRS accused some MDAs of including functions of assessment, collection, accounting and enforcement of taxes and levies in their agreements with concessionaires and consultants.
“It has come to the notice of the Federal Inland Revenue Service that some Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) are appointing concessionaires or consultants for the assessment, collection, accounting or enforcement of taxes and levies due to the Federal Government or any of its agencies.
“Some MDAs include such functions in their agreements with concessionaires or consultants,” the Public Notice read.
Citing Section 68(2) of its Establishment Act, the FIRS highlighted that by “law it is the primary agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria responsible for the administration, assessment, collection, accounting and enforcement of taxes and levies due to the Federal Government or any of its agencies, except as may be authorised by the Minister responsible for Finance by regulation as approved by the National assembly”.
FIRS also insisted that while Section 12(4) of the FIRS Establishment Act has provided that the Service may engage consultants, accountants or other agents to carry out certain functions on its behalf, the law has expressly prohibited the carrying out of assessing and collecting tax by consultants.
Quoting the FIRS Act, it said, “The Service may appoint and employ such consultants, including tax consultants or accountants and agents to transact any business or to do any act required to be transacted or done in the execution of its functions under this act; provided that such consultants shall not carry out duties of assessing and collecting tax or routine responsibilities of tax officials”.
“The above provisions of the law, it is clear that the duty of administration, assessment, collection, accounting or enforcement of taxes and levies due to the Federal Government or any of its agencies is that of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and its tax officials. No part of these responsibilities can be contracted to a private enterprise by any other MDA.”
The FIRS further cautioned MDAs who were in the business of appointing consultants for tax assessment and collection that they were not just acting against the letters of the law, but were committing offences that were punishable under the FIRS Establishment Act as amended.
“Furthermore, appointment or authorisation of any person, other than by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, to assess, collect, enforce or account for taxes constitutes an offence under Section 68(3) of the FIRSEA. Such appointment or authorisation is punishable, upon conviction, with fine, imprisonment or both under Section 68(6) of the Act.
“In view of the foregoing, where any person, individual or corporate, has any information or assistance that may be of use to the Service for the purpose of administration, assessment, collection, accounting or enforcement of taxes and levies due to the Federal Government or any of its agencies or for the performance of its duties under the FIRSEA, such person should approach the Service directly with such useful information,” the Notice read.