The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said that any importer that does not have a Tax Identification Number (TIN) number whether regular or occasional is defrauding the government of its revenue. Director of Communication and Liaison, FIRS, Mr. Emmanuel Obeta, told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY this against the backdrop of complaints by Customs agents that individuals who are occasional importers should be allowed to clear their consignments without the use of TIN. Obeta explained that every taxable adult who earns income and does not have a TIN has been evading tax which according to him is a crime. On the claims of delays from the FIRS with regards to the issuance of TIN, Obeta said that all companies registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and the FIRS have existing TIN, and, as such does not need to be issued with a TIN. He said that for companies or individual that do not have existing TIN number as a result of non-registration with the FIRS, obtaining TIN does not take more than 24 hours. “When importing something, you are not been treated as a corporate or individual. The procedure when importing is that you use ASYCUDA number whether as an individual or company because that is what is required for you to import.
Now as an individual importing something you will also need a TIN number and the process of issuing a thing number is not difficult. Every taxable adult needs to have a TIN number to pay tax. So if they don’t have a TIN number it means so they are breaking the law. It is actually tax evasion which is a crime,” he said. While maintaining that the federal government is not imposing an additional responsibility on taxpayers, Obeta noted that individuals who pay tax to the state government can equally use their TIN numbers to process the clearance of their consignments He stated that those complaining lack the understanding involved in the process. “Whether it is a state government TIN number, or FIRS TIN number it is acceptable. You will only upload it on the web portal and update your information on the single window platform; then you can go ahead and do your clearance. So it is a government initiative to ensure that revenue that is supposed to come to government coffers is not shortchanged.
Those who are complaining lack understanding in the process of TIN number,” he said. According to him, TIN is issued once to individual or companies for the purpose of tax payment or remittances and not renewed intermittently. “Once it is issued, it remains with the individual or organization and not reissued again, what is required is for the company to quote it and use it as the basis of paying their duties in the course of their importation activities,” Obeta said.
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