The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has clarified its position on the compulsory self-certification forms for some “reportable persons”.
In a now-deleted tweet on Thursday, the revenue agency had announced that it is mandatory for all Nigerians operating bank accounts to register for self-certification at their respective banks.
“All account holders in Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, etc) are required to obtain, complete and submit Self – Certification Forms to their respective Financial Institutions. Persons holding accounts in different financial institutions is required to complete and submit the form to each one of the institutions. The forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019. Failure to comply with the requirement to administer or execute this form attracts sanctions which may include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account,” the tweets read in part.
The announcement got many Nigerians angry with some questioning the rationale behind the decision when all banks now have multiple citizen’s collection data platforms like the Bank Verification Numbers (BVN), National Identification Numbers (NIN), International passport, driver’s license, SIM card registration and voters’ card where details needed could be drawn from.
Clarifying its position on Friday, FIRS in a series of tweets explained that the self-certification forms are for ‘reportable persons’ holding accounts in financial institutions regarded as “Reportable Financial Institutions”.
“We like to refer our esteemed taxpayers & general public to the FIRS Public Notice: ‘Completion of Self-Certification Forms By Reportable Persons.’ This exercise is required for due diligence in line with requirements of Income Tax (Common Reporting Standards) Regulations 2019.
The Self-Certification Forms are to be administered by Financial Institutions to enable account holders clearly document their respective jurisdictions of tax residence. Relevant Financial Institutions and other stakeholders have been adequately sensitised on this process.
— FIRS Nigeria (@firsNigeria) September 18, 2020
“The ultimate objective of the Automatic Exchange of Information is to improve transparency in Nigeria’s tax system and boost the anti-corruption drive of the Government.
“The Self-Certification Forms are to be administered by Financial Institutions to enable account holders clearly document their respective jurisdictions of tax residence. Relevant Financial Institutions and other stakeholders have been adequately sensitised on this process.
“Please note that this is a seamless process as the form is available for download on the FIRS website: http://firs.gov.ng. Financial institutions are expected to provide email addresses or electronic portals for customers to upload completed forms.” the tweets read.
We apologize for the misleading tweets (now deleted) that went up yesterday, regarding the completion of self-certification forms by Reportable Persons. The message contained in the @firsNigeria Notice does not apply to everybody. FIRS will issue appropriate clarification shortly pic.twitter.com/KBiPh0lCwJ
— Government of Nigeria (@NigeriaGov) September 18, 2020
The FIRS Boss, Mohammed Nami had explained in Thursday’s circular that “the forms are required by the relevant financial institutions to carry out due diligence procedures in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.”
He added that the self-certification form is in 3 categories- form for entity, for controlling person (individuals having a controlling interest in a legal person, trustee, etc) and form for individual holders of bank accounts.