Daring the presentation of the 2020 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly on October 8, 2019, the Federal government equally presented the Appropriation Bill known as 2019 Finance Bill.

This bill which has been passed compels individuals to produce their Tax Identification Number (TIN) for banking operations. The implication is that for anyone to operate a bank account in Nigeria whether new or existing, the individual’s TIN must be attached. Where this is not complied with, the customer will be denied access to his/her funds.

While Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, (ONICCIMA) clearly understands the vision of the current administration towards building a transparent and sustainable revenue generation ecosystem to enhance the revenue base of the country through the non-oil sector: and also considering that tax is a civic obligation of every business and citizen/resident of the nation; we totally align with the government on any policy that shall effectively and transparently enhance the revenue base of the nation especially as it relieves us of the over-dependence on crude oil.

However, we advocate that the government should urgently institute structures to embark on massive sensitization campaigns across the length and breadth of the nation on the importance of TIN, how to obtain it, as well as the implications of non-compliance. Fortunately, the Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed on December 2019 affirmed that the implementation has been suspended to enable for wide consultations with relevant stakeholders prior to commencement. Although government policies require enforceable timeline for people to comply, we nonetheless request that the grace period should be lengthy enough for total comprehension by the citizenry.

Since all indices released by the NBS has not shown any significant economic growth to positively impact disposable income, implementing the TIN penalty on the citizens’ accounts without giving ample time for adequate sensitization and compliance may cause economic crisis that shall negatively affect economic growth within the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2020.

The Ministry of Finance should mobilize Tax authorities (FIRS, States Board of Internal Revenue and/or Joint Tax Board JTB) for direct interaction and sensitization at places of public gathering (such as Markets, Churches and Mosques). This will have a great impact on the citizenry and help in realization of the objectives of this tax project. Finally, ONICCIMA appeals to every business and citizen/resident of Nigeria to seize this opportunity to comply with the government’s directive by processing their TINs and also comply with their civic obligations of paying their taxes when due.

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