By MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
The federal government has moved to increase the number of taxpayers in the country by 35 per cent or from the present 14 million to about 17 million in the next two years.
To achieve that, the minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said the government has concluded plans to recruit 7,500 young graduates under its N-Power programme (a social intervention scheme) to act as Community Tax Liaison Officers. Their “task is to increase tax awareness; to enroll more citizens unto the tax database. To do outreach – to make people understand about the tax system. To move in our churches, Mosques and markets and let people know what their obligations are on the tax system,” Adeosun said today, Thursday at a media conference in Abuja.
In her remarks, the finance minister also said the aim is to improve on revenue generation and to reduce Nigeria’s reliance on oil and to ensure that the entire economy contributes through tax revenue to its growth and stability.
Nigeria has about 14 million taxpayers out of an estimated 69 million people that are economically active, a level of enrolment Adeosun said is “very low”, adding that lack of awareness of the tax system was responsible for why a lot of people do not know the rules and what they should do on tax issues.
Flanked by the chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Tunde Fowler and other senior officials of the ministry of finance, Mrs. Adeosun said one of the priorities is to get more people enrolled, more people informed about their obligations of the tax system.
‘A very good tax system works when a lot of people pay. We think there is a major national education on the tax system that is needed,” she said. Based on the current 14 million taxpayers, the minister said the expected 35 per cent increase “will take us to around 17-18 million within the 2-year period. If we do that, we believe there will be a big increase in revenue across board. If we improve the tax base, we improve the fiscal health of the states and the federal government.
The prospective tax liaison officers will be employed on a 2-year fixed term contract, according to the minister. They will be deployed into their states and attached with the states’ board of internal revenue service or the FIRS. She added that failure of the government to take such steps, will deny it a robust base to support government programmes.
On qualification to apply, Mrs. Adeosun said “of course we prefer accounting, law, mathematics. Really, the skills are being able to talk to people and being able to articulate.”
According to the minister, the liaison officers will be given one week intensive training in Abuja, adding, there will also be follow-up trainings – online and in the states and they will be deployed into their communities to carry out the awareness campaign.
The young graduates are encouraged to apply through the N-Power’s website.