FIRS Issues Public Notice on Filing of Tax Returns to Specified Tax Offices

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), last week, issued a Public Notice to counter its September 2016 Public Notice titled, ‘Filing of tax returns by taxpayers to the tax offices nearest to their company’s domicile address“.

The initial Public Notice permitted all taxpayers to file their Companies Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), and Withholding Tax (WHT) returns at the FIRS tax office nearest to their places of business, or choices of location. Taxpayers who were interested in taking advantage of the directive were required to apply in writing to the Tax Controllers of their tax offices indicating their new tax offices of choice and request the transfer of their files and Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN) accordingly.

FIRS has countered this earlier directive via its recent Public Notice of 25 January 2020, and now mandates taxpayers to file returns to specified tax offices based on industry segments, regional locations and sizes of businesses. The Public Notice, attached here, provides details of the various tax offices where different categories of taxpayers must now file their tax returns. Certain categories of taxpayers, e.g. micro, small and medium businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), certain businesses operating outside of Lagos State, should not be affected by this new directive.

For affected taxpayers who had changed their tax offices based on the earlier directive, this new directive will imply either a reversion of the earlier change of tax office or a further change of tax office pursuant to the new directive.

The effective date of this change was not communicated via the Public Notice, but since it presumably involves filing of monthly tax returns, one might expect it to take effect on or before the next monthly tax filing cycle.

While this new directive may assist in making taxpayer service more streamlined and effective, and tax administration/ oversight easier, it does not take into consideration the convenience of the taxpayer, ease of tax compliance and the administrative challenge involved in moving companies’ tax files and TINs (at short notice) from one tax office to another.