The Senate Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday urged the federal government to stop tax waivers and concessions already granted to corporate entities.
The panel said the country was losing huge revenue to tax waivers and incentives.
It, however, suggested that all companies should pay their taxes in full to the government coffers and then request for a rebate.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Adeola Olamilekan (APC, Ogun West), and other members stated this during an interactive session on the 2024 budget with the finance minister, Wale Edun, and his counterpart from the budget and economic planning ministry, Atiku Bagudu.
The finance minister had told the panel that Nigeria lost about N3 trillion to tax waivers this year.
Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger) said the federal government should adopt the system of withholding taxes for tax waivers.
He said, “If you look at tax credits and the waivers, why can’t we adopt a system like what we are doing with withholding taxes? Withholding taxes is going into a fund. After a while, if you can prove that you have paid all your taxes, they pay you your rebate back. So, why can’t we do the same?”
Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) said the government should be bold enough to stop the tax credits and waivers just as it did with the fuel subsidy.
He said, “I think we should be bold enough just like the president is very bold. I still want to use this opportunity to commend him for his speech to say there is no more fuel subsidy.
“Some people are taking advantage unnecessarily of Nigerians and benefiting to the detriment of Nigerians. We talk about tax credits; it is an expenditure and it should go through the National Assembly and there are no two ways about that.
“Look at these illegalities, remove them, and then let us move ahead. If not, this country is being drained by some loopholes. It is our loopholes in revenue collection that is killing this country.”
Olamilekan said the committee had agreed that all taxes should be paid to the coffers of the government and then corporate entities should apply for rebates.
“Since this is a transition period, can we half it? The provision for these waivers should be reduced by 50 per cent,” he said.
The finance minister, in his response, said the lawmakers’ advice would be looked into by the federal government’s fiscal policy and tax reform committee.
Edun said, “In trying to implement such a laudable policy, it is important to look at the practicality and decide how it can be done, whether it can be done in one fell swoop, or whether there are some obvious exceptions.
“That has to be looked at, and the devil is in the details. But I think we are all agreeing that we should try as much as possible to move to a rebate system rather than up-front granting of waivers and other incentives even including interest incentives.
“So, if somebody is going to be given a concessional interest rate, they pay the normal interest, carry out the transaction, and then they get a rebate.
“The fiscal policy and tax reform committee is very careful about that and what you have advised today will be taken as important input into our work.”