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FIRS seeks tax compliance approval for holding political offices

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says tax compliance should be a prerequisite for clearing aspirants to contest elective positions.

Muhammad Nami, executive chairman, FIRS and chairman, Joint Tax Board (JTB) made the recommendation on Tuesday at a meeting with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja.

The meeting was aimed at strengthening collaboration among the agencies to ensure tax compliance among candidates in the upcoming elections.

Nami said it was imperative to promote measures aimed at strengthening the capacity for sustainable and inclusive tax administration in the country.

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

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

While emphasising that tax revenue was the most effective and sustainable way of generating funds required to drive the social economy, Nami called for a reorientation that would make every income earner pay tax.

“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,” Nami said. 

“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.”

He further said that anyone whose tax status was not in harmony with their declared records should not be entrusted with public office.

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

On his part, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, said ‘no specific law’ makes it mandatory for election candidates to present evidence of payment of tax before they could contest an election. 

“But we understand the importance of this collaboration and we will collaborate with you,” he added.

“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.”

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