The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it generates N3 billion revenue weekly from stamp duty collection.
By Nduka Chiejina
This stamp duty revenue is generated weekly from May 2020 to date from Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).
Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami told the House of Representatives Committee on finance on Tuesday in Abuja.
The purpose of the meeting with the legislators was to resolve the face-off between the FIRS and the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) over stamp duty collection, and the fate of the N58 billion revenue generated from February 2016 to April, 2020.
The Session which was chaired by the Chairman Finance Committee of the House of Representatives, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke include other members of the committee, Post- Master General of the Federation Dr. Ismail Adebanjo Adewusi, NIPOST board Chairman Barr. Maimuna Yaya Abubarkar and other top officials of the postal agency and FIRS officials.
Nami said the FIRS was able to generate this much revenue from a single stream of stamp duty collection from DMBs because the Service had deployed a new technology to track and capture such revenue straight into the federation account.
The technology deployed by the FIRS Nami said is the Application Programming Interface (API) technology solution, an – online real time technology that makes collection of Stamp Duties easier.
Nami said when he assumed office in December 2019, the FIRS discovered over N30 billion in the NIPOST Stamp duty Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The account was opened in 2016 specifically to warehouse revenue from stamp duty collection.
However, by April 2020, the balance in the account had grown to N58 billion because of the deployment of the API by the FIRS. Money in the stamp duty account by May 2020 was transferred to the federation account following instructions given to the CBN by the FIRS to do so.
Since then, both the FIRS and the NIPOST have been at daggers drawn over who controls stamp duty collection and invariably the money which accrues from the collection.
Nami said payment of Stamp Duties collection in Nigeria dates back 94 years ago, stressing that stamp duty had always been part of the revenue schedule of tax authority.
He regretted that the differences in who controls stamp duty collection between both NIPOST and FIRS had degenerated a public spat to between the two agencies describing the development as “unnecessary and unhelpful”.
According to him, “the FIRS regrets that as agency of the government, FIRS and NIPOST allow a simple situation to degenerate to media exposure”.
In his submission, Postmaster General/Chief Executive Officer of NIPOST, Dr. Ismail Adebanjo Adewusi described the feud between FIRS and his agency as needless.
According to him, “as prelude, it’s important to make this remark. NIPOST is not a tax collecting agency. We are not in the business of collecting taxes, that’s not our mandate. But our role in stamp duty is clearly stated in the law.
“The issue is, the Finance Act, 2019 did not in any way stop NIPOST from its mandate. In spite of amendment to finance Act, it has not affected the responsibility of NIPOST. There is no fight between NIPOST and FIRS over tax collection”, he said.
He however insisted that, the responsibility of procuring stamp rests with NIPOST but appealed that, the agency is entitled to its share of the stamp duty proceeds it collected and domiciled in the CBN from 2016 to 2020.
He told the Finance committee that “all the monies that accrued to the account include proceeds of stamp sales. In the spirit of peace, we want FIRS to look at the issue. We deserve in sharing cost of collection. At the initial meeting, FIRS said they will give us 30 percent and take 70 percent, we said no”.
Earlier in his opening remarks by Chairman, Finance Committee of the House of Representatives Hon. Abiodun Faleke said the committee was embarrassed by the open engagement of the two government agencies in addressing the issue.
According to him, “as a committee responsible for overseeing finance agencies, we decided to call for this dialogue to see if the agencies are doing the bidding of the law”.
He said having heard presentations by both sides; it would be fool hardy for the committee to just take a decision. “We will go back, look at all legal issues raised and reconvene.”