Beyond the pat in the back and positive appraisal for laudable reforms that have positioned the tax regime in a positive light in recent time, boosting more revenue from taxes, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS is in the news again.
The searchlight is beamed on the federal agency this time, not for accolades or strategic policy direction but as recipients of grievances aired by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA a civil rights advocacy group due to a recent demand by the FIRS for it to remit the sum of ₦70 million as Company Income Tax, CIT.
The recent demand by the FIRS for HURIWA to remit CIT became an issue worth raising an eyebrow due to HURIWA’s status as a non-profit organization according to its Corporate Affair Commission’s registration preventing the group from partaking in any profit-making activities.
In clear terms, the group is saying that the FIRS lacks the legal justification for imposing CIT on its operation while tagging it a move resulting from FIRS’s vendetta to hinder the group’s operation of speaking against irregularities identified with the current political administration.
Allegation continues to fly
Different perspectives continue to account for why the FIRS deems it fit to demand a non-profit organization to remit CIT. Connecting the dotted lines, it is important to state that in recent times, HURIWA registered its displeasure over the FIRS’s budget where it allocated ₦1.4bn budget for meals and refreshments for the 2021 fiscal year.
It is also worthy of note that the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko pride the group as a critic of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration with allegations that top government officials have approached the group severally on the need to withdraw in the role of opposing the sitting administration.
The group in a war of words has dived further to label FIRS a “cesspool of filth and massive corruption”, saying its refusal to withdraw as a critic of the government is the sole reason why the FIRS has come up with the CIT move.
Assertions of HURIWA on FIRS’s imposition of CIT
“The FIRS is on a vendetta and witch-hunting adventure against the organisation for criticising the Federal Inland revenue services in a Punch interview in which the newspaper sought our opinion regarding its findings that the federal tax agency earmarked humongous amount in their 2021 budget as entertainment expenses to be paid for them by taxpayers,” Onwubiko said.
“This is an attempt to muzzle free speech because, on many occasions, many prominent federal government officers had approached HURIWA’s national coordinator to slow down on our criticisms of the failures of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Because they failed to get us to compromises and be silent, the FIRS think it can use the illegal methodology to intimidate, harass and force us into silence. Aluta continua, victoria ascerta. We will neither be cowed nor silenced by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”
The “revelation of a budget of ₦1.4bn for meals is a continuation of the heritage of corruption in the agency,” and added that “there is the need for a clean sweep in that agency because it is clear that corruption is deeply rooted and needs surgical action to eradicate this social menace.”