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FIRS says it generates N3billion weekly from stamp duty collection

.....As NIPOST insists on its share of the stamp duty proceeds collected between 2016 and 2020

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Tuesday announced that it has been generating N3 billion revenue weekly as stamp duty charge from Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) since May 2020.

Muhammad Nami, Executive Chairman of the FIRS, told the House of Representatives Committee on finance in Abuja that the Service was able to generate revenue from a single stream of stamp duty charges from Deposit Money Banks, DMBs as it had deployed new technology to track and capture such revenue into the federation account.

“FIRS had deployed the Application Programming Interface (API) technology solution, an – online real time technology that makes collection of Stamp Duties easier”.

“Upon assumption of office in December 2019, we 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”.

Nami explained that the payment of Stamp Duties collection in Nigeria dates back 94 years ago, adding 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”.

He said, “The FIRS regrets that as agency of the government, FIRS and NIPOST allow a simple situation to degenerate to media exposure”.

The Session with the Legislators which was chaired by the Chairman Finance Committee of the House of Representatives, James Abiodun Faleke, aimed at resolving 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.

In his submission, Postmaster General/Chief Executive Officer of NIPOST, Ismail Adebanjo Adewusi described the feud between FIRS and his agency as needless.

“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, agency is entitled to its share of the stamp duty proceeds it collected and domiciled in the CBNfom 2016 to 2020.

He stressed 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, Abiodun Faleke said the committee was embarrassed by the open engagement of the two government agencies in addressing the issue.

“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”, he said.

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