By NBF News

THE Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui Okauru, has targeted increased tax revenue base for the country this year, with the current effort of the service and other stakeholders to improve tax awareness  and system of administration.

She made the promise in a keynote address to a colloquium entitled: 'The Taxpayers' Money', organised recently in Lagos, by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS). However, to achieve this, she said all stakeholders in the system must get involved.

She explained that tax collection should no longer be seen as a way of collecting money from a set of people but as ' a peoples' way of life'. She said that everyone in the system should see taxation as the life-wire of the

nation and should therefore be passionate about sharing information on how to bring potential taxpayers into the tax net.

To achieve that, Okauru said that taxation should be incorporated in schools' curriculum as that would help the up-coming generation learn the importance of paying tax from their early stages of life.

According to her: 'There has been a steady improvement in Nigeria revenue collection over the years, and we believe that our revenue collection will continue to improve. However, there are certain principles, which we have to pursue: everybody should be involved and we should begin to see taxation as a catalyst to national development. We must also believe that if the taxpayers' money is important to national development, then, the taxpayers are equally important or even more important.'

Okauru also said that the effort of tax stakeholders to improve revenue collection in Nigeria would yield better result if there was accountability and taxpayers were involved in the decision-making process.

'The involvement of taxpayers in decision making encourages accountability. The keepers of the purse must also contribute to the purse.  It is important that the keepers of the money are also the contributors of the money. Whatever position we find ourselves, we must always remember to obey tax laws,' she said.

The Chairman of the occasion and Special Adviser to Lagos state governor on taxation and revenue, Mr. Ade Ipaye, in his remarks said that Nigeria was underfunded because of the negligence of citizens and residents to pay their taxes.

He said that there was no way the government could function optimally without adequate funding.

Ipaye noted that Nigeria's petroleum resources notwithstanding, it still needed tax revenue to be able to provide the requirements of the entire residents and citizens.

'There are certain factors that put us nearly at the bottom of the developmental scale the world over.   We do not see that the government is underfunded; what we see is that the government has petroleum. We do not see that the government needs our contributions to provide our needs, what we see is that the government has not provided all our needs. We should note that two things are important: when we fund the government, we expect better governance from the government,' Ipaye said.

The colloquium, which took place at the NIALS in University of Lagos, also featured papers and speeches presentation by legal and tax experts. These include a paper on Value of Tax Policy in dealing with wealth and income distribution in Nigeria by Adetokumbo Tajudeen Oni, Taxpayers' Money: Abuse and Misuse by Lawrence Fubra Anga, Taxation and Corporate Social Responsibility by Chief Michael Agbamuche and Federalism and Taxation by Professor Ikhiariale.

Other presentations are The role of FIRS in monitoring investment, revenue allocation and internally generated revenue by Professor Deji Adekunle and Tax evasion and Avoidance by Professor Ademola Poopola of the Obafemi Awolowo University.