By Wale Odunsi
Taiwo Oyedele, Head of Tax and Corporate Advisory Services at PwC Nigeria, has explained the federal government’s directive to Nigerians on Self-Certification Forms.
On Thursday, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration directed all account holders in banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions to obtain, complete and submit the forms.
The government noted that this would enable institutions to do due diligence procedures in line with the Income Tax Regulations 2019.
Consequences include monetary penalty or inability to operate the account.
In his explanation, Oyedele said the development is in connection with the commencement of automatic exchange of taxpayers information between Nigeria and other countries.
He noted that the information required is to enable reporting financial institutions to determine the tax residency of their customers to know which countries to share your information with.
In the case of corporate accounts, the exercise is required to determine the beneficial ownership and control also for reporting purposes, Oyedele tweeted.
Observing that many people are angry, he argued that the exchange of information initiative will help the government obtain data from other countries regarding Nigerian residents’ finances.
“In exchange, Nigerian government must provide information about persons in Nigeria who are tax residents in other jurisdictions to the relevant countries. The FG could have done a better job of simplifying the process and communicating more effectively.
“A simple analogy is like asking everyone to make a self declaration so that the government can determine how many Nigerians have attended a foreign university onsite when a simple information filtering will show that we need not bother 99% of Nigerians about it.
“The mere fact that the government is asking Nigerians to provide this declaration is a reflection that the country poorly handles data management. The same reason why many countries were able to easily administer palliatives to their citizens during this pandemic and we couldn’t.
“Your bank has an interest in getting this right so you can wait until they reach out to you. Banks have done a similar thing before under the US FATCA and they didn’t ask everyone to make a declaration. I am hopeful that banks will be able to do the same this time around”, he added.