FIRS, ODIRS boost Tax Knowledge, distribute 9,000 copies of Books to Ondo Schools
By: Tolulope Oluwole
In a bid to drive tax culture among future tax payers and boost government revenue, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has partnered with the Ondo State Internal Revenue Service (ODIRS) to launch the distribution of over 9,000 copies of books to pupils and secondary school students across the 18 council areas of Ondo State.
The Chairman, Ondo State Internal Revenue Service (ODIRS), Mr Tolu Adegbie in his address stated that the people who aren’t paying tax today are the same people who will grow up, graduate, start working and will start paying tax in future.
Adegbie “What we are doing now is putting it into their consciousness. If you don’t train people properly, if people don’t accept an idea, if the idea is alien to them, they won’t be able to accept it but if it is familiar to them, they will embrace it when their time comes to pay tax.
“One of the challenges we have as tax authorities is what we call tax avoidance. People don’t want to pay tax. They believe that why should I pay? What is the government doing for me? But what people don’t realise is that from this tax, government will use to fix all those things lacking.
“Nigeria has the lowest ratio of tax GDP in the world, it means that the amount of tax we are paying compared to our GDP is so low. This is because of tax evasion. So, what we are trying to do is that, for the current generation, we deal with them by law but for the younger generation, let us start talking to them, let us start showing them the value.
“Let them be familiar with the concept of taxation as a whole and Nigeria will reap the benefits of it in the future,” he said.
Adegbie noted that ODIRS is currently working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote tax clubs in secondary Schools in Ondo State and FIRS in terms of tax education of the youths.
“They have a lot of financial resources for them to do this. You can see the book, the concept, it cost a lot of money and they are distributing thousands of copies to Ondo State. Our jobs is to get the books to as many secondary schools as possible in the state and to follow-up by going to those schools and talk to them.
“Set up tax clubs, promote engagement, promote dialogue on tax among the youth at both secondary schools and the university level. So, what they’ve done is to give us literature but we still have to go and talk to them”, Adegbie added.
Adegbie, however, appreciated the FIRS for the partnership, noting that the book will impact greatly in building a strong tax culture among young and future taxpayers that will produce great ambassadors and nation builders.
The FIRS Coordinator for Kwara, Ondo and Ekiti States, Mr Ishola Akingbade, while presenting the books on Friday in Akure to the Ondo State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Femi Agagu explained that, the knowledge of taxation, the laws, the administration and the policy framework will best, be understood by students at the basic level, hence, the need for the initiative.
His words: “We call it ‘coming book’, specially designed for easy ready for young pupils, preferably, pupils in primary and students in secondary Schools because we want to bring tax education to the doorstep of everybody and that’s why we are starting from the foundation.
“We are saying, tax education starts from the foundation and that led us to coming with a book like this for distribution to all secondary Schools and we are starting with Ondo State because we have a good relationship with them because when it comes to tax compliance, they’ve been so fantastic.
“Beyond that, we want people to know what we talk about in taxation. What is it for? What type of tax do we have? How do we pay these taxes? How do we file appeal if there is any need? Where is our offices across the nation? What is the difference between ODIRS and FIRS? What are the areas of collaboration? What is the importance of Joint Tax Board to nation building? What is the tax revenue used for? among others”, he stressed.
According to Akingbade, “It is taxation that is bedrock of everything in Nigeria and that is why FIRS under the current executive Chairman, has decided to sensitize the people at the lowest level to educate them on tax issues.
“Young people are always curious to know things and the moment they know, they will always talk to their parents. Even, if their parents aren’t educated, they will be able to tell them about taxes and the importance and that’s why we are catching them young”.
Responding, Ondo State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Femi Agagu, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mrs Abimbola Folasade Adegoke, appreciated FIRS and ODIRS for the initiative, promising that the books will be equitably distributed.