The Federal Government is targeting an increase in the number of taxpayers in the next two years from the current 14 million to 17 million.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this during a media briefing on Thursday in Abuja on a new initiative to drive tax revenue.
Adeosun was accompanied to the briefing by the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, and other top officials in the ministry.
Specifically, she said the Federal Government was planning to achieve the objective by recruiting 7,500 graduates as community tax liaison officers to raise the level of tax awareness in the country.
She said the graduates would be recruited under the N-Power programme of the Federal Government for a two-year period, adding that graduates with accounting, economics and similar backgrounds would be given priority during the recruitment process.
The minister stated that the major responsibilities of those employed under the programme would be to enlighten people in public places such as markets, schools, religious centres, offices and recreational centres, among others, on the need to pay taxes.
Adeosun said, “We will be recruiting them through N-Power and they can apply through the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance or through the N-Power website. It’s a two year fixed contract and they will be deployed in states and attached to states’ internal revenue service or the FIRS.
“Their job is to improve the level of education on Nigeria’s tax system. Our tax system is progressive, meaning those who earn less should pay less, and those who earn more should pay more.
“A lot of people don’t know that. So it’s a chance to get people on ground to answer all these pertinent questions.”
She encouraged intelligent graduates interested in pursuing a career in tax administration to apply as the government planned to sponsor the recruits to become tax professionals.
Adeosun added, “This exercise is extremely important for the fiscal sustainability of the states, because as you know, most of the revenue for the states apart, from FAAC, is supposed to come from tax. So if we improve the number of taxpayers, we will be improving the fiscal health of our state governments as well as the Federal Government.
“It’s an important initiative for the nation as we undertake reforms to reduce our overdependence on oil. We have to make sure that everyone who is economically active pays tax, no matter how little, they have to contribute to the pool.”
When asked how much they would earn, Adeosun said those employed under the scheme would be paid N30,000 monthly.
She, however, added that they would receive performance-based incentives to be measured by the number of people that gets enrolled during the two-year period.
Fowler reiterated that tax evasion was a punishable offence in the country.
He said that the Tax Appeal Tribunal was being reconstituted and stated that tax evaders would be prosecuted.