In its bid to simplify and ease tax payment process, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), over the weekend, launched the electronic filing (e-filing) platform in Lagos.
At the launch, held at the Welcome Centre Hotels, Mafoluku, Lagos, the Service also updated stakeholders on how to access the FIRS e-filing platform and steps for rendering tax returns using the electronic system.
The Acting Executive Chairman of the Service, Alhaji Kabir Mashi said the “e-filing access application form is now available and can be downloaded from FIRS website: www.firs.gov.ng or can be obtained from any FIRS office nearest to you”
Mashi said that the e-filing system, which is now operational in most cities nationwide, is a part of the end products of the Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS) Project which the FIRS, with the support of President Goodluck Jonathan and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) embarked upon few years ago.
The utmost aim of the ITAS Project, he said, is to modernize tax administration in the country, from entirely manual process to all-round and completely automated system.
“Let me state without mincing words that the FIRS Modernisation Programme has been hugely a success story. We have become a model for other tax administrators across Africa and our rating in global peer review exercise of the OECD is a pointer to this direction. The ITAS Project is one of the many projects borne out of the Modernisation programme to ensure that the Service operates a transparent and efficient system.
“ITAS will get FIRS to the point where all the key tax functions and core processes such as registration, payment, assessment, case management, audit and investigation, debt management and filing would be automated”, he said.
“It is in line with the above that we are here today to launch the FIRS Electronic Filing known as the e-filing, a key deliverable of the implementation of the ITAS Project. The e-filing is a platform that will improve taxpayers’ voluntary compliance as it will enable the taxpayers file tax returns from the comfort of their office and homes. It will reduce the cost of tax administration. It is generally aimed at increasing efficiency, minimizing data entry errors and it allows the taxpayer to perform some aspects of their tax administration process by themselves in secure and confidential manner”, Mashi said.
In her presentation on e-filing procedure, Tax Manager, Cadbury Nigeria Plc, Mrs. Mofoluke Agbeyanjo said the process involves two stages: stage a-how to get User ID to access the e-filing platform and stage b- steps for rendering tax returns using the e-platform.
On stage a, Agbeyanjo said: first, obtain “e-filing Access Form” from any FIRS office nearest to you or download from FIRS website: www.firs.gov.ng. Second, Complete the form by nominating Officers or Agents that will represent your organization on tax matters. Third, you will indicate on the form the access the nominee should have either to declare (file returns), view only or declare and view rights. Next, upon returning the completed form to the FIRS office where your tax matters are handled, the FIRS will use the information on the form to issue system generated Username and password. The username and password are the keys that give you the access to the e-filing site to transact tax business with FIRS. You are required to change your password upon first login. The platform is user-friendly hence, you will be promptly able to navigate your way through to filing completion. Lastly, you can check your account balance, change relevant registration details and connect to tax office using customer centre to make enquiries. It should be noted that FIRS e-filing works best on Google chrome or any version of internet explorer to less than version 9”, she said.
Stage b, according to Agbeyanjo, involves the following steps: “After a successful login, you are positioned in your Homepage in which you can see a summary of the declarations (ie tax returns) which need to be filed. You are required to be in custody of either hardcopy or softcopy of the return you want to file. To start declaration, you have to alternatives: on the Homepage, either click on the view all declarations to be filed hyperlink or on the Taxpayer Service tab.
“The tax declaration page opens by default in the collapsed form. Then click on view all tax declaration”, next, click on the tax type for which you want to file and tax period which are yet to be filed are displayed. The expanded form is displayed and the “File now” hyperlinks are shown for the relevant tax period. Then, click on the “File Now” hyperlink. Then the return page opens and relevant form lines are displayed; then enter line details. In this page, you can enter the amounts for the required form lines in the filing currency previously authorized for the tax account for which you are filing or you can upload csv file.
“When you finish, click on “submit declaration” button. This brings you to the confirmation step where you can verify whether the entered amounts are correct or not. If you are sure, then go ahead to click “Yes” for the return to be submitted. Following this action, your declaration will be submitted to FIRS office and the page showing “end declaration process” step is displayed. Click on the hyperlink “here” and you will be led to the “View Filed Declaration” page which gives you the summary of your declaration and the document number is displayed at the top right hand corner.
“Lastly, copy the document number which is required at the bank to settle the liability”.
Coordinating Director, Modernisation Group, Osy Chuke, his Field Operations Group counterpart: Ajayi Bamidele, Director, Project Management Office, Tax, PMO-(T) Gbolaga Oshiga and Deputy Director and Project Manager, PMO (T) Kudu Abubakar, took questions from participants including top grade consulting firms like Akintola Williams & Delloitte, KPMG, seasoned tax consultants/practitioners and principal partners from chartered accounting firms.
FIRS Board members, Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, Bello Mahmoud and President, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Mark Dike, over a dozen directors of the FIRS, were in attendance at the event.