Media practitioners have been told that they have key roles to play in the quest by the Federal government through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to increase tax revenue in the country.
This was made known at a stakeholder engagement on FIRS tax processes with media practitioners (print, electronics and online) in Lagos.
Our Correspondent reports that the FIRS in 2022 raked in an unprecedented N10.1 trillion. The figure represents the highest tax collection ever recorded in the history of the service and any other revenue agency in the country.
The media practitioners were tasked on the need to increase public awareness on the enormous benefits of tax in nation building and advancement.
Speaking to the gathering, the lead paper presenter, Michael Oche who is the Group News Editor, Nigerian Pilot newspapers, noted that when taxpayers are exposed to positive news on the uses of revenue generated from taxes, they are more likely to pay their taxes correctly.
He said one of the challenges that discourages tax compliance is that tax some taxpayers are ignorant of the positive aspects of taxes to the economic advancement of the country because such benefits are most times underreported by the media.
He explained that the essence of the stakeholders meeting was to build the capacity of media practitioners on the FIRS tax processes.
Oche said:“ The media has a critical role to play in increasing public awareness through its traditional role of enlightenment and education. However, to be able to perform this role effectively, media practitioners must themselves understand the subject matter.”
Speaking further, he said the media has a key role to play in increasing tax compliance among taxpayers, saying this is very critical to helping the government generate more revenue to finance public infrastructure and provide social services to Nigerians.
In his words, “It is an admitted fact that making tax benefits a part of day-to- day life through constant media reporting can help taxpayers feel closer to tax administrations and play vital roles in taxpayers compliance decision. It includes raising awareness of the societal benefits of public spending enabled by tax; educating taxpayers of specific tax issues and their obligations.
“As the tax system relies on voluntary compliance, it is important that the media create sufficient information. It is commonly held that taxpayers are often unaware of their rights and obligations. Mass information campaigns may be a useful tool to help build tax morale.”
Continuing, Oche maintained that apart from obligations, it is also important that media highlights how taxes are spent and distributed. Showing taxpayers the social utility of taxes can help change their perceptions about tax, which too often emphasize the costs while dismissing the benefits.
“Media report bad news at a pace that does not mirror reality, thereby discourages compliance. Providing taxpayers with factual information about the use of tax revenues may increase income self-reporting and tax compliance. Reporting news stories basically focusing on successful public projects funded with tax revenues. Reporting evidence of how tax revenues increase public welfare. Taxpayers exposed to positive news are more likely to pay their taxes correctly.”
The one-day engagement was facilitated by View Concept Technology Limited.