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FIRS seeks tax compliance as condition for clearing political aspirants

TAX compliance has been proposed by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as a requirement for applicants to pursue elective seats in the country.

Muhammad Nami, the Executive Chairman of FIRS and Chairman of the Joint Tax Board (JTB), made the recommendation during a meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday in Abuja.

The Chief Executive Officers of the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission also attended the meeting (ICPC).

The purpose of the meeting was to improve communication between the agencies in order to ensure tax compliance among candidates in the future elections.

According to Nami, actions aiming at boosting the country’s capacity for sustainable and inclusive tax administration are needed.

He claimed that anyone who does not pay taxes should not be given money from taxpayers to manage.

“It is important that political office holders pay their right taxes to enable the tax agencies to channel the funds for national development.

“Tax payment has become a secondary matter because some of us are benefiting from social amenities achieved from money from oil,’’ he said.

Nami urged for a reorientation that would make every income earner pay tax, while emphasizing that tax collection was the most effective and sustainable way of generating finances essential to drive the social economy.

“The challenge we face as a nation is that the tax Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Nigeria is about the lowest in the whole world.

“We must get our tax right. We must have a reorientation or reconstruction of our tax code.

“Tax compliance is a constitutional obligation and it is our duty to ensure that every eligible citizen pays his or her tax promptly and accurately.

“The 2023 election presents an opportunity for us to ensure the effective compliance of every political actor to showcase his tax agenda as part of the prerequisite for 2023 elections, ” Nami said.

He went on to say that no one should be trusted with public office if their tax status did not match their declared records.

“Tax compliance, therefore, should be approved for holding political office as this is a global practice,’’ the FIRS boss said.

On his part, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said “no specific law makes it mandatory for candidates for election to present evidence of payment of tax before they could contest the election”.

He did, however, promise that INEC will work with relevant institutions to guarantee that public office holders followed Nigeria’s constitution and relevant laws, including paying taxes.

“There is no specific law that makes it mandatory for candidates for election to present evidence of payment of tax before they can contest.

“But we understand the importance of this collaboration and we will collaborate with you.

“All candidates for elected offices are required to complete the INEC nomination forms and to swear to an affidavit that they have fully and faithfully provided the requisite information to the commission.

“We will collaborate with sister agencies to provide whatever information you require to facilitate your constitutional roles.

“Leadership comes with enormous responsibilities at both the executive and legislative levels, and persons entrusted with that responsibility must respect the constitution and laws of this country.

“And that is why agencies responsible for ensuring compliance with the constitution and laws of this government just like INEC have fully supported,” Yakubu said.

The Chairman of ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, said that “false records presented by some public office holders is reflecting in the kind of governance in some places”.

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