The Nigerian government says it will no longer issue out international passports to citizens who default on their taxes. According to Naij.com, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, announced Monday that citizens are now required to show evidence of tax payment before they can obtain their international passports. Fowler was speaking in Abuja during the 136th meeting of the Joint Tax Board, which had the theme, “Increased Inter-Agency Co-operation To Enhance Tax Compliance and Optimize Revenue Collection.”
Fowler explained the reasoning behind the new policy:
We did take a position and I believe it would be implemented in the very near future, that before you get any services from the immigration department, you’d have to show that you are a tax payer.
These things are normal all over the world and it would help us to serve Nigerians and Nigeria better.
People believe that payment of tax is a burden and I’ll repeat that you only pay tax on income and profits.
So, if you reside in Nigeria and you are benefiting from being a Nigerian resident, it is only fair that you contribute to the system that makes you enjoy that standard of living.
He added that FIRS has set a target to add 10 million new individual taxpayers to its database by December 31st.
“I’m glad [that] with our co-operation, we’ve been able to attain 30 percent of that [target]. We’ve been able to get three million individual taxpayers across the nation.”
With oil revenues recently taking a huge hit, the Nigerian government has had to look at alternative sources to fund its public infrastructure projects. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been forced to reevaluate the role of FIRS and similar revenue generating agencies to block leakages and stop corruption.