First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has urged business owners in Nigeria to keep pace with current and emerging realities in the corporate environment, especially on taxation, in order to make their respective businesses competitive and enhance overall performance.

In addition, the bank has advised stakeholders to build a more robust relationship that would enable SMEs to effectively understand the country’s tax laws and how it applies to them.

According to a statement, FCMB made the submission at a virtual tax seminar it organised in partnership with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) recently.

The seminar, the third in the series, was under the theme, “Tax and Your Business: An In-depth Discussion.”

It recorded over 500 registered SME participants in attendance. The seminar provided a platform to equip entrepreneurs with requisite knowledge on taxation by promoting the exchange of ideas between tax regulators and businesses on existing and emerging tax matters to ensure compliance and avoid sanctions.

Topics discussed at the seminar ranged from, Accessing your Tax Identification Number, Understanding Nigeria’s Business Tax System, Tax Reconciliation Issues: An SME Perspective, Tax Compliance and Business Performance, among others.

Among the experts who spoke at the virtual seminar were the Director, Taxpayer Service Department at the FIRS, Mrs. Saadatu Yero; Acting Director, Special Taxes Department of the Service, Mr. Adamu Kudu; Divisional Head, Transaction Banking, FCMB, Mrs. Rolayo Akhigbe; Group Head, Business Banking, Mr. George Ogbonnaya; Head, SME Digital Innovation, Mr. Dennis Ezaga; Partner, Pedabo Professional Services, Mr. Killian Khanoba and Chief Executive Officer, Square Bee Four Nigeria Limited, Mr. Efe Sodje.

In her keynote address, Yero enlightened participants on the importance of obtaining Tax Identification Number (TIN) by SMEs.

According to her, “the TIN helps businesses to make easy payment over different platforms such as remita, e-transact and Paydirect. It is also an important requirement when businesses request for credit note for tax reconciliation, offsetting of tax debt and claim processing.”

The director urged businesses and taxpayers to use the agency’s electronic payment channels, such as the e-filing, TIN e-registration and e-payment of stamp duties etc.

In his contribution, Kudu of the FIRS, spoke on the functions of the agency, particularly its role in tax assessment, collection and accounting as well as digitisation of its operations.

He stated that, “in order for the FIRS to discharge its functions, the taxation process has been redesigned to encourage voluntary compliance.

“These include compliance with registration, filing, payment and other civic obligations connected to these duties. Most of the obligations have been automated not only to induce efficiency in service delivery, but to also reduce compliance burden on taxpayers.”

Also speaking, Akhigbe of FCMB said as an inclusive lender that places a lot of importance on best practices, the Bank considers it imperative to ensure that customers in the SME segment follow due process and compliance in the conduct of their businesses.

She pointed out that, “as the dynamics of taxation continues to change in Nigeria, we recognise that many businesses, especially SMEs, are not equipped with the requisite information and knowledge to discharge their responsibilities in this area appropriately.

It is based on this reality that we decided to organise this virtual seminar, which will go a long way towards helping SMEs to understand taxation and the processes involved better. Having built a strong base in the SME segment, we will continue to partner with relevant stakeholders to further build the capacity of businesses in a sustainable manner’’.

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