The Edo State Internal Revenue Service (the EIRS) is established with the objective of administering taxes accruing to the Edo State Government. The EIRS is generally empowered to assess, enforce, recover/collect taxes and remit taxes payable to the State Government.
Prior to this period, tax administration in Edo State was laced with myriad of issues ranging from lack of proper coherent database/record of tax payers to poor assessment, collection and remittance of taxes to the State government.
Poor tax administration in Edo State was largely attributable to the lack of attention and focus by the state government on fiscal policies as a tool to drive revenue generation in Edo State, especially since the Nigerian government, throughout its successive administrations had placed reliance on the exportation of crude oil as the major source of revenue for the government. However, with the global decline in crude oil prices, it became increasingly important for the Nigerian government to consider diversification of economy; with focus on an improved tax system as a complementary source of revenue generation.
Having successfully gained the attention of the Edo State Government, enormous pressure was then placed on the EIRS to drive reforms that will reverse the old trend and improve tax administration in the state. To achieve this, reforms were set in motion by the EIRS to automate the manual tax assessment and collection processes. The automation processes were to discourage inefficiency, revenue leakages and lack of accountability resulting from poor administration and infrastructure of our tax systems.
It was therefore against this background that the EIRS embraced technology to automate and integrate all tiers of government. Below are technology-enabled reforms carried out by the EIRS.
The ICT Revolution
The traditional mode of physically visiting tax offices was another discouraging activity on the part of an already reluctant taxpayer. For the sake of prudence, it was necessary to seek out the more effective ways of collecting taxes which do not impose extra burden on the taxpayers.
To facilitate ease of tax collection and to bring its service closer to the people
The EIRS introduced the Edo State Revenue Administration System (ERAS) project in August, 2018 with the objective of simplifying the tax compliance process in Edo State. ERAS envisages the provision of electronic platforms for tax officers to assess taxpayers, receive payments from taxpayers, generate Tax Clearance Certificates, and get instant credit for withholding taxes amongst others. As it stands, taxpayers can register, remit taxes (include stamp duties) and file their tax returns online. In addition, ERAS helps taxpayers in the cumbersome task of determining the taxes payable, because of the success it has achieved in terms of public acceptance the EIRS is currently developing a tax calculator to help in computing tax liability.
The overall result of these changes is the highly increased generation of revenue. The progressive increase in the revenue lends credence to the positive effect of ICT on tax administration. Since its introduction, the EIRS has been able to generate more revenue and add more people into the tax net.
Beyond the remittance of taxes, filing and registration, the EIRS has also achieved the digitalisation and automation of taxpayers’ historical records; a daunting feat most agencies in Nigeria still find impossible. This automation and digitalisation erode the challenge of storage for the agency and frustration that may be encountered by taxpayers when faced with loss of records. It also helps with ease of reference for administration of taxes.
Below is a summary of key reform areas carried out by EIRS using technology by upgrading its payment channels:
·E-Registration: platform provides an opportunity for registration of new taxpayers with EIRS for the various category of taxes;
·E-Stamp Duty: an application being developed for payment of stamp duties on qualifying documents.
·E-Tax Payment: provides a platform for payment of all Edo State Government taxes and levies through any of the following platforms – Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Remita, Quickteller, Interswitch Paydirect, web payment https://eirs.gov.ng/), MoneyPoint Agency Banking, Point of Sale stations (PoS), First Bank Agency Banking and through scratch cards which are only available in branch offices of EIRS.
·E-Receipt: provides a platform for receiving and verifying e-receipts generated for taxes paid through the new E-Tax Payment
·E-Filing: an application being developed will enable taxpayers file their tax returns through the Edo State Revenue Administration System (ERAS).
·E-TCC: this platform enables taxpayers apply for, receive and verify authenticity of their electronic tax clearance certificates (E-TCC)
The initiatives underscore the efforts of EIRS towards ensuring that key tax processes are automated in order to improve transparency, ease and speed of tax administration; for both taxpayers and tax administrators. It is also in alignment with the goals of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which is now being reinforced through the State Action on Business Enabling Reforms.
To achieve these reforms, EIRS continues to partner with both private and public-sector stakeholders such as CSDC Systems Inc., Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) and System Specs Nigeria Ltd to ensure that tax payers in Edo experience a seamless process when making their tax obligations.
Osaze Ogbomo is the Team Lead, EoDB Secretariat-ESIPO