Stakeholders have rejected plans by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to tax online transactions, saying it will amount to double taxation. Chairman of FIRS, Mr Babatunde Fowler, yesterday, while speaking in New York, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the agency will soon begin collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on online transactions. Fowler said: “Soon, we will ask banks to impose VAT on online transactions for purchases of goods and services. Not that it is something new; it actually should be in existence.
“We will certainly follow up to make sure that every VAT that is due to be collected is collected.” He explained that the move was part of measures by FIRS to meet its N8 trillion revenue target for 2019. Fowler said the agency had started taking action against companies and businesses that refused to embrace Federal Government’s tax amnesty programme. According to him, FIRS hopes to generate between N750 billion and N1 trillion from the clampdown, which includes closure of defaulters’ bank accounts. “We are going after everybody. I am sure you have heard that we have placed lien on some accounts of defaulters that have a billion naira turnover annually. “So, certainly, we are not leaving anyone out of the tax net,” he said. Officially known as the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme, the tax amnesty programme was launched in 2017. It gave tax defaulters a one-year period of grace to declare and settle their unpaid taxes. There have been complaints by some taxpayers of being wrongly targeted by FIRS in the clampdown. Asked to comment on that, Fowler admitted, blaming it on “administrative error,” arising from the huge number of accounts involved. “Well, there is certainly one or two instances where we made administrative error, but when you are looking at over accounts, there is a tendency that sometimes an error might be made. “For those that we made errors on, I wrote them personally apologising and of course, we lifted the lien on their accounts.” However, reacting to the development, head of Tax and Corporate Advisory Services at PwC Nigeria, Taiwo Oyedele, said the Federal Internal Revenue Service does not have the capacity to tax online transactions, which are not already being taxed in the country. Commenting on the statement by the head of the FIRS, that the service will commence imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on online transactions in the country, Oyedele, “I don’t know whether they needed to say it. “The reality is that if you go online to make transactions on Jumia or any of these platforms, there is already VAT.
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