* President wants FG to give tax holiday as palliative
* Commends Rivers for palliatives and for showing what tax revenue can do
By Codratus Godson
How would the tax environment look like after Covid-19 would come and go. This is the question many experts have been asking. To answer it, the National Council of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) came to Port Harcourt and moved into Faarah Coffee Lounge near Flyover (Catholic Cathedral) Junction to brainstorm on the way forward.
At the end of the four days, the experts seemed confident to confront the immediate future. They may advice the FG to give tax holiday, an option the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has since turned down. The CITN still believes it is a necessary measure because some companies cannot even retain tax consultants anymore.
The national council of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has risen from its national council meeting and retreat in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with new strategies on how to cope with post-Covid tax situation in the country.
This is as the president, Dame Gladys Olajumoke Simplice, has called on the Federal Government to declare a tax holiday as form of palliative to the Nigerian tax community.
At the four-day event held at Faarah Coffee Lounge in Port Harcourt, the council adopted the training theme; ‘CITN and the March Towards Strategic Redirection as a Recipe for Global Leadership in Professional Practice’, which was handled by Michael Stevens Consulting.
The council members told newsmen that the dynamic and changing nature of the tax environment makes it necessary for members to restrategise and also to retrain the members to cope with the changes especially in the task of training and certifying new members.
The president further told newsmen that taxpayers have been hard-hit and must be rescued by the FG so that they can survive, bounce back, and continue to pay taxes. The FG had earlier turned down calls for tax waivers in the covid-19 pandemic era but said it could only consider extension of deadlines.
The Rivers State Government led by Gov Nyesom Wike however announced far-reaching palliatives early in August 2020 including suspension of informal sector tax drive, extension of tax filing to December 2020, and 50 per cent reduction in some others including capital gains. The business community hailed the declarations.
The CITN president who joined in commending Gov Wike told newsmen that Rivers State has held out hope and encouragement to taxpayers who she said clearly see their taxes in action. The state has awarded contracts for five flyovers in the state and other link roads worth N54Bn in the state capital so far.
Simplice said giving palliatives and showing clear evidence of tax at work as Rivers did would spur the citizens and taxpayers into adopting voluntary tax compliance and make taxpaying a happy experience.
“Each state is allowed to give palliatives to its tax paying community. So, you look at your local tax climate and decide what to give the taxpayers at this time. You need to assess the low income group and know what to do for them”, she stated.
As professionals who look at books of companies, the institute says most Nigerian companies cannot afford even to pay for tax advice. Olajumoke said many countries are so far giving different palliatives, adding that the taxpayer needs to survive and resume paying taxes.
She disclosed that CITN has looked at suggestions to table before the FG after the Port Harcourt meeting, saying the areas have already been penciled down for discussion.
Olajumoke, who is also the President of the West African Union of Tax Institute, said the CITN is behind 90 per cent of tax and finance laws being rolled out in Nigeria including the 2019 Finance Act.
She said Covid-19 issues have necessitated amendment of the Finance Act and that suggestions would be tabled from PH meeting, adding that their members are right now offering free tax advice because firms can hardly afford payment.
In her contribution, a council member, Justina Okoro, said the retreat is to first look at the journey so far as an institute and what they needed to do next to impact positively on Nigeria and the economy.
“This retreat is to look at strategies and understand the meaning of strategy as a cause of action that is deliberately and strategically deployed to achieve a particular outcome. It is a focused cause of action in certain areas of policy.
“Our leaders need to be focused in their plans of action. You need to decide what you want to achieve at the end of your tenure so that at the end of it, the people are better for it. This is same with corporate organizations. They must not be distracted in what they set out to achieve. So, you must have a vision, a mission, and strategy to achieve them.
“CITN wants to be the foremost tax institute in Africa and the world, and so how to achieve this, say in 2030. Nigeria set certain targets for 2020; so did we achieve them, and if not, is it late? The nation can always try again. It is to re-plan and refocus on how to achieve whatever that was intended.”