The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP) and the World Bank, has set aside a grant of $2.5 million for each State that will be able to begin the implementation of a tax enforcement relief system for individual taxpayers and businesses by 31 September.
The incentive is to accelerate the progress of the numerous tax reduction schemes implemented by state governments as part of initiatives aimed at alleviating the unending toll of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses and ensuring a sustained recovery of state economies.
Bello-Bakrindo said the initiative formed part of the outcome of a virtual meeting on August 14, 2020 under the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results, organised by the World Bank and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) midwifed by the FMFBNP.
He identified the various tax reliefs measure so far announced by states and said the “efforts are being incentivised by a new Disbursement Linked Indicator (DLI) under the FMFBNP – World Bank $750m States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme for Results.
“Eligible states will be rewarded with $2.5 million each in performance-based grants if they announce by 31st July 2020 and implement by 30th September 2020 a tax compliance relief programme for individual taxpayers and businesses to mitigate the COVID-19 impact.”
Bello-Barkindo added: “However, there are criteria to be met if a state is to receive the $2.5m.
“These are that, state announcements should be signed by the Commissioner of Finance or the Executive Chairman of the State Internal Revenue Service, and published on state websites and in national dailies to ensure widespread awareness amongst taxpayers.
“Furthermore, the state government should issue to their tax officials and collecting agents, guidelines for the implementation of the reliefs to ensure consistent execution by all and sundry.”
He said the virtual meeting was attended by 125 participants from the 36 states, among whom were Commissioners of Finance and Executive Chairpersons of states’ Internal Revenue Services.
Bello-Barkindo noted states are already introducing various forms of tax relief, which include extension of filing and payment dates, tax moratoriums, waivers or reduction of penalties and interests over the extension period.
He said some states are also offering rebate or discounts on taxes paid within a specific period, while others are allowing the payment of taxes, fees and levies among others in instalment.
Bello-Barkndo further noted states’ tax offices are enabling filing and the issuance of tax clearance certificates electronically (online).
Bello-Barkindo quoted the Programme Manager, NGF’s SFTAS Technical Assistance Project, Olanrewaju Ajogbasile as telling participants that the NGF’s Secretariat, “through the support of the FMFBNP and the World Bank, was available to provide technical advisory on the domestication of necessary reforms to meet the DLIs and more broadly, fiscal sustainability.
“Olanrewaju Ajogbasile also disclosed that while some States have followed strictly the requirements of granting extension for filing 2019 annual returns and waiver for penalties and interests for businesses and individual taxpayers, others have gone further to waive other taxes, fees and levies for a specified period of time.”