The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has Charged Media Practitioners across the country to help to create public awareness on the need for Nigerians to pay their taxes while harping on some of the enormous benefits derivable in nation building and advancement.
The idea is to inform citizens of their civic duty and to also highlight how taxes can be used to improve infrastructure and services and to create more jobs and opportunities for citizens. This would in turn help to increase economic growth and prosperity in the country.
The FIRS gave this charge at the town hall meeting with members of the media in both print, electronics and online in South –West held in Lagos on Tax Processes. The FIRS emphasized the importance of compliance with tax processes and urged members of the media to join in their efforts to ensure that the public is informed and educated on these matters.
The GUEST SPEAKER and Group News Editor of the Nigerian Pilot Newspaper, Michael Oche spoke into the various components of tax such as Introduction to FIRS, Taxes and Levies Administered by FIRS, Self -Assessment Regime and Due Dates for Filing, Some Misconception about FIRS, Tax Appeal Procedures, Taxpayer’s Rights and Obligations, and Role of the Media in Ensuring Tax Compliance.
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According to Michael Oche, “The media has a critical role to play in increasing public awareness through its traditional role of enlightenment and education. However, to be able to inform and educate media practitioners must themselves understand the subject matter.
It is an admitted fact that making tax benefits a part of day-to- day life through constant media reporting can help taxpayers feel closer to tax administrations and play vital roles in taxpayers compliance decision. It includes raising awareness of the societal benefits of public spending enabled by tax; educating tax payers of specific tax issues and their obligations. As the tax system relies on voluntary compliance, it is important that the media creates sufficient information. It is commonly held that taxpayers are often unaware of their rights and obligations. Mass information campaigns may be a useful tool to help build tax morale.”
Oche maintained that apart from obligations, it is also important that media highlights how taxes are spent and distributed. Showing taxpayers the social utility of taxes can help change their perceptions about tax, which too often emphasize the costs while dismissing the benefits.
“Media report bad news at a pace that does not mirror reality thereby discourages compliance. Providing taxpayers with factual information about the use of tax revenues may increase income self-reporting and tax compliance. Reporting news stories basically focusing on successful public projects funded with tax revenues. Reporting evidence of how tax revenues increase public welfare. Taxpayers exposed to positive news are more likely to pay their taxes correctly.”
Participants at the town hall meeting were both members of the media and the public who took the opportunity to ask the guest speaker varies questions that had bothered them over some of the activities of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
The question and answer session was very instructive, enlightening and educating as all question from participants were dealt with accuracy.
Seunmanuel Faleye is a brand and communications strategist. He is a covert writer and an overt creative head. He publishes Apple's Bite International Magazine.