The Federal Capital Territory Internal Revenue Service (FCT-IRS) in its bid to ensure tax payer comply with payment and filing of tax returns has concluded plans to embark on serious enforcement against erring taxpayers.

The Acting Executive Chairman of the Service, Mr Haruna Abdullahi disclosed this when he paid a courtesy visit to the leadership of Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) in Abuja.

Abdullahi stated that it is no longer business as usual as the Service is ready and committed to ensure all the taxpayers in FCT are accountable and responsive to their civic duties, adding that the FCT-IRS is empowered by law to recover all outstanding tax liabilities as well as penalise tax defaulters.

He said considering the number of the taxpayers in the FCT, it is shameful to see that so many of them are not complying, stating that “we need to change that, we are engaging the Judiciary, Security Agencies, the media and other relevant stakeholders on this matter, I can assure you, before the year runs out, people will be held accountable.

“We are ready, we have built our capacity and it is our intention to make our mark and ensure that people do what they are supposed to do according to the law. We will be guided by the Personal Income Tax Act, Finance Act, FCT-IRS Act and of course, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” he said.

Abdullahi, who assured the Tribunal of the internal capacity of the Service, charged members of the Tribunal to justify the confidence reposed in them by the law by working assiduously towards ensuring that recalcitrant taxpayers are brought to justice.

The acting executive chairman stated some of the derivable benefits the collaboration will bring to both parties and the country to include voluntary tax compliance, evident growth of the tax net, awareness creation on FCT-IRS processes and the responsibility of the Tax Appeal Tribunal.

He said others include stringent enforcement actions which will ultimately result to a significant boost in revenue generation.

He disclosed that through this step, more individuals and agencies will be held accountable for failing to pay taxes as and when due. This is in line with the engagement being carried out by the Service with the judiciary, security agencies and other stakeholders.

Abdullahi described the visit as a step in the right direction and expressed delight in the quick adjudication of cases by the Tribunal.

In her response, The Coordinating Secretary of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, Hajara Bolanle Oniyangi expressed happiness on the visit by the delegation from FCT-IRS.

Oniyangi stated that it is important for the Service to harness all areas of revenue generation as permissible by law.

She added that as a revenue generating agency there is bound to be dispute emanating from the Service, displeased taxpayers and Agencies, hence the reason the Tax Appeal Tribunal was established.

Speaking on the benefits of the initiative, she noted that the Tribunal’s processes are simple and clear with a reputation for prompt judgement delivery.

Lauding the Acting Executive Chairman’s efforts and recognising the intricate role of publicity in boosting compliance, Mrs. Oniyangi expressed her delight on the initiative taken by the Service to partner with the Tribunal.

She also highlighted the need for the Service to intensify its awareness and sensitisation efforts stating that taxpayers cannot be entirely be blamed for non-compliance if they are not duly informed about the process, pros and cons of paying their taxes and vice versa.

In his remarks, the Secretary of the tribunal, Mr Ahmed Aliyu also expressed joy on the step taken by the Service towards strengthening the enforcement with a view to boosting the revenue collection of FCT-IRS.

“If, for instance, there are organisations that collect personal income tax and fail to remit, it is sometimes difficult to go in there and force them, but there is a Tribunal created by the government for that purpose, and, once judgement is delivered by the Tribunal, even if they want to appeal, they will have to pay the money first”

Aliyu also pledged to assist the Service in whatever way possible within the ambit of the law to ensure that cases from FCT IRS are given accelerated hearing within the ambit of the Procedure Rules of the Tribunal, in order to ensure that not a single tax payer evades or avoids his or her tax paying obligation, which he said, would ultimately enhance the revenue generation of the FCT.