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Buhari orders deployment of technology to tax digital transactions

President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered deployment of technology to tax all digital transactions carried out across the country.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the 17th General Assembly and 10th anniversary of the West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) in Abuja on Tuesday.

The assembly is a high-level policy dialogue on taxation of the digital economy, organised by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Mustapha said the President gave the order to tax authority to ensure digital transactions were taxed digitally, and the goal of their efforts was to achieve seamless digital collection and remittance of tax revenue accrued from the digital economy.

He said the President had directed the deployment of technology to good effect in revenue collection and remittance as a matter of government policy.

The SGF said FIRS had been strengthened to carry out this mandate by the President and the Federal Executive Council (FRC), to digitise “tax collection channels in particular and tax administration processes in general.

According to him, this is supported by the amendment to the tax laws and empowering the tax authority to deploy technology in tax.

“Nigeria is putting in place measures to ensure that we keep up to date with these developments and answer the question of what to collect and how to collect it, as far as the digital economy is concerned.

“Therefore, our definition of what to collect- whether we call it income tax, Digital Service Tax or Value Added Tax, must address the issue of redefining who a taxable person or entity is, to accommodate the fact that digital transactions side-track the ordinary and traditional understanding of jurisdiction,” he said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of FIRS, Mr Mohammed Nami, said the importance of the role of WATAF could not be overemphasised because the reasons it was set up by the founding fathers, was to create the atmosphere for dialogue on collaborative efforts.

Nami said the aim was not only still valid but growing in importance, hence stressed the need for more synergy.

He said the theme for 2021, “The Taxation of the Digital Economy: Exploring Untapped Revenue Sources in Africa” was a good illustration that would make them continue to work together as partners.

“When you speak of taxing the digital economy, you are talking about an economy without physical borders, trade and commerce that transcends our natural geographical delineations.

“In terms of tax administration, the only way that this can possibly be done with any accuracy and effectiveness is if it is done digitally, since the commercial activity itself is also done digitally.

“Tax regulators and other industry stakeholders must therefore rise up to the challenge of being in a position to tap into the stream of opportunity that advancements in science and technology afford us, ” he stated.

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