On Tuesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, between January and now, over $35bn had been sent to the country by Nigerians living abroad.
Dabiri-Erewa said the amount so far remitted to the country by Nigerians living abroad this year exceeded the $21bn sent home by them last year. She disclosed this when she visited the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, and the management team of the FIRS in Abuja.
Dabiri-Erewa drew the attention of the FIRS management to tax concerns raised by Nigerians living abroad, adding that this might frustrate the objective of the government in encouraging them to invest back home. The $35bn remittance, according to her, is the highest so far recorded in Africa this year and the third highest in the world.
“In 2016, they (Nigerians living abroad) remitted $35bn, which is higher than what was remitted in 2015. This is the highest in Africa and the third largest in the world,” she stated.
She said, “There is a lot of talk about your organisation from Nigerians in the Diaspora concerning taxes; whether there will be tax incentives for Nigerians coming back home to engage in agriculture and other businesses.
“Recently, they expressed concern over reports that we need to pay tax on our passports. There should be collaboration between both offices to disseminate information in case they have questions or want answers.”
Responding, Fowler said the agency had not imposed any fresh tax on the collection of passports, adding that what was required from any adult applying for passport was evidence of tax compliance.
He said, “What we are saying is if you want any immigration services, either you want to renew your passport or get a new one, so long as you’re an adult and you’re making an income, you just have to show evidence of tax payment.
“There is no direct tax on passports, it’s just to show evidence of paying tax; and of course, you’re entitled to all the services of government.”
The FIRS boss explained that there were a lot of tax incentives for Nigerians abroad to take advantage of when investing in the country.