Ignorance major cause of tax controversy — Fowler

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By Prince Okafor

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, Mr Babatunde Fowler, has blamed ignorance of taxation rules for the incessant controversies between taxpayers and government.

tax
Babatunde-Fowler FIRS Chairman

Fowler, expressed this view at the KPMG Tax Breakfast Seminar in Lagos, with theme, ‘Tax Controversy and Dispute Resolution’. He counselled taxpayers to consult experts in tax issues to avoid over-payment, noting, however, that FIRS does tax refund when necessary.

Fowler stated: “The cause of incessant tax controversies between the government and taxpayers are majorly as a result of ignorance of tax administration on the side of taxpayers.  Corporate bodies need to take advantage of tax education which FIRS is embarking on across the country using different communications media.

“Taxpayers need to query the source and any observed errors or omissions in tax letters/statements from tax authority. No one has the right to bully any taxpayers in any circumstance.

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“We have our Joint Tax Board, JTB, across states whose rectification with any organization is binding by other JTB across the federation.  So to avoid multiplicity of tax charges, you must know the law permitting such tax; you are even free to decline an invitation for Joint Tax Audit. Still, it is better you even go to Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) where necessary.”

In his remark, KPMG Partner and Head, Tax, Regulatory and People Service, Mr. Wole Abayomi, said: “The constantly changing economic landscape requires governments at all levels to develop frameworks that will provide a competitive tax landscape for business, effectively accelerate tax revenues, proactively curb tax evasion and create opportunities for the country’s teeming population.

“A situation where the last time Companies Income Tax Act (CITA) and Value Added Tax (VAT) Act were reviewed was 12 years ago leaves much to be desired, thus, there is an urgent need for government to reform our outdated tax laws to reflect current economic realities.

“An efficient way of doing this is to return to the practice of enacting a Finance Act soon after the passage of the annual federal budget through which our tax laws can be constantly reviewed in accordance with global best practices.”

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