WHAT TO DO WHEN CONFRONTED BY REVENUE OFFICIALS IN NIGERIA

Of all the major concerns business owners worry about, one which is foremost is the subject of tax. Today I thought to drop a few hints to guide us when we get confronted by revenue officers. A revenue officer/official is an individual who collects revenues (such as taxes, duties and other levies) on behalf of the Government. Revenue officers perform specific duties and this is dependent on the particular agency under whose employment and instruction the officer operates.

Tips:

In no particular order, here are the tips:

1) DEMAND FOR PROPER IDENTIFICATION

In this era of imposters, it is not impossible to see the wrong persons posing as revenue agents with the sole aim of defrauding unsuspecting persons. Note that it is your legal right to enquire about the true identity of the persons claiming to be revenue agents. What amounts to proper identification is subjective. However, your discretion and common sense comes to play in this case. Demanding for their names, identity cards and information regarding their agency unit are all ways to go about it. Of course, I need not mention the importance of diplomacy in your dealings.

2) OBTAIN A TAX ASSESSMENT NOTICE

Before making any payment, every tax payer is expected to obtain a Tax Assessment Notice (also called Notice of Assessment) from either the revenue officers or the relevant revenue collecting agency. This Tax Assessment Notice is a statement containing details of the amount of tax taxpayers owe or that is due and payable, including other related details. The figures in the Notice are calculated based on the information taxpayers submit on their tax returns. A Tax Assessment Notice discloses the following: Agency Code, Revenue Name, Revenue Code – of the particular revenue or tax the taxpayer is paying for. See more information about Tax Assessment Procedures

3) VERIFY THE TAX PAYMENT DEMAND NOTICE IS GENUINE

Under Nigerian Law, it is your right as a taxpayer to object to any tax assessment that you reasonably believe to be inconsistent with your business activities as provided by Tax Laws. To do that, visit the relevant revenue office as provided on the Demand Notice. That way, you will be able to ascertain if the Assessment Notice was a fraud or genuine. More so, any objection would be accordingly addressed. The position of the law is that any assessment that is not in line with the law cannot be final and conclusive. 

4) PAY INTO THE GOVERNMENT REVENUE ACCOUNT ONLY

As a matter of policy, all Government revenue MUST be paid directly by taxpayers into the designated Government Revenue Account. Note that revenue officers are prohibited from handling cash! This is even more established in this era of Treasury Single Account (TSA) as it pertains to Federal Government Ministries and Agencies. TSA is a financial policy in use in many countries of the world including Nigeria.

5) ENGAGE TAX PRACTITIONERS IF NECESSARY

Issues relating to tax remittance involve figures and also some basic knowledge about the tax regime, generally. The processes and procedures are sometimes quite complex. In order to ensure full and adequate compliance, it may be necessary to engage the services of a tax practitioner to assist you.

I hope you find these tips useful as you set out to build sustainable businesses…



CYNTHIA TISHION
Author: CYNTHIA TISHION
Cynthia is a Legal Practitioner and Entrepreneur, based in Calabar, Nigeria. A graduate of the University of Calabar, and an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, UK (Nigerian Branch). Cynthia currently serves as Head of Corporate/Commercial Services at LEX-PRAXIS, a full service law firm with special interests in providing professional legal support services to business owners, developing estate plans for families and providing dispute resolution services to businesses and individuals. She has successfully argued cases at the High Courts and Appellate Courts in various jurisdictions. With her passion for business and entrepreneurship, she is actively engaged in creating awareness on the legal aspects of business through various platforms such as writing and public speaking engagements.

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