The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler, has advised the Federal Government and the 36 states to look into property tax in order to increase their internally generated revenue in line with global best practice on taxation.
Fowler spoke in Abuja on Wednesday during a three-day workshop on Nigerian Tax Research Network.
He said, ”There is the need to generate more revenue; it is something that is done all over the world and we cannot continue to be left behind anymore.”
Fowler also urged members of the public to comply with the tax authority by ensuring that they pay their taxes promptly, adding that the tax is what federal government is using to provide infrastructures and better living standard for the people.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has the political will to drive change in the non-oil sector especially as regard to the tax system.
In his remarks at the event, Prof. Abiola Sanni, said that the country needs a system that will deliver based on local government capability to drive taxation at every level of governance.
“We need to be involved at the grassroots. You must get involved otherwise we cannot get a tangible result.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), Prof. Mick Moore, said that the objectives of the NTRN was to provide a platform for knowledge exchange and evidence-based debate on tax issues through workshops, conferences, and publications.
He added that it also support the production of high-quality, policy-relevant research, especially that led and undertaken by Nigerian researchers, by providing funding and capacity development.
Moore noted that at the NTRN would facilitate coordination and complementarity between existing projects and actors active in the area of taxation in Nigeria.
He said: “The Nigeria Tax Research Network is dedicated to enhancing the generation and exchange of tax knowledge in Nigeria. The workshop is concerned with all topics related to taxation, ranging from tax policy to tax administration, and from academic papers to practical case studies.
“If Nigeria is to improve its tax performance, then more Nigerians need to engage in serious research to explore what other countries are doing and evaluate the options in the Nigerian context. The NTRN is intended to support this process.”
Speaking to The Daily Times, Rhiannon McCluskey, Research Uptake and Communications Manager of ICTD, said the idea was to get more research on tax issues in Nigeria to help grow the revenue base of the economy and improve public service towards social development and also help the local governments.
McCluskey explained that property taxation was yielding low revenue due to the inability of local government to carry out its mandate as well as the lack of capacity to collect property tax in an efficient manner.
NTRN stakeholders consist of tax practitioners and researchers, as well as donors and civil society organisations working on tax issues in Nigeria, including FIRS, the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, and university tax clubs, among others.
The NTRN which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is coordinated by ICTD based at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK.
Mathew Dadiya and Samiat Oduwole, Abuja