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By NBF News

Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has given taxpayers till today, to file tax returns or open themselves up for sanctions. Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mrs. Ifueku Omoigui-Okaru who gave the ultimatum on Thursday in Abuja, in her welcome address at the Corporate Plan/Enlarged Management Meeting, did not, however, expatiate on the degree of sanction, but said that the sanction would be in the form of penalty or option of fine.

According to her, the service is not in charge of income tax from all tax payers in the country, saying that the law does allow the service to collect taxes from all the departments of the government. She, therefore, stated that those within their purview must comply with the rule.

'We only collect from the jurisdiction as defined by the law, which is the Federal Capital Territory, staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Armed Forces, Police and others. For those within our jurisdiction, we are also emphasizing the fact that you need to file tax returns by 31st March 2012 otherwise you make yourself open to sanctions by the tax authorities. It is either a penalty or option of fine which I will not able to disclose now' she said.

For her, it is now a requirement for every individual taxpayer in every state and the Federal Capital Territory to file their personal assessment returns.

'It is an obligation to go to the tax office within the jurisdiction where you reside to get the forms, declare all your income, complete your tax and then pay within two months. And that within the amendment Act now, there is now a sanction for non filing of returns and therefore it is important that we start educating the tax payers if they are not aware to be aware now that they must file the personal assessment returns. Lagos has started educating their tax payers and I think other states have started too and also the FCT too because they know that for the personal income tax amendment Act the jurisdiction changes from state to state because we don't collect Personal Income Tax from all tax payers in the country' Omoigui-Okaru, said.

On the Enlarged Management meeting, she said that it is the coming together of all the management staff with a view to appraising where they are coming from, what they have done and what they have not done and also to be able to plan for years' ahead.

'We are supposed to do it earlier, but again it is still not too late, at the beginning of the year we have a very clear focus of where we are all going. On the contrary, we focus on all tax payers, if there is a group that we don't focus more on it is the micro and small taxpayers. But we focus on the other groups, but of course the degree of focus which will improve with time like the area of multinational organizations, we are working on cross border transactions which we really have not focused on as much as we could, but we are coming up with transport pricing regulations so we have very clear transport pricing guidelines to guide the transactions between companies operating in Nigeria and their subsidiary organizations outside this country' FIRS chief noted.

Also, in her keynote address, the Co-ordinating Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, remarked that such a reform without a carefully thought-out strategy and regular evaluation will be bound to fail.

The Minister who spoke through the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Finance, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, said meetings such as this provide an avenue for the FIRS to review and agree organisational goals and objectives and the strategies, plans and progress to adopt towards achieving them.