Deloitte sees automation transforming tax administration in Nigeria

Experts in tax administration have said automation will transform taxes for companies and regulators in the very near future, as technology is expected to impact satisfaction level positively.
Citing a new study conducted by Deloitte, the experts believe the next five years could be significant for many organisations, as the professional environment becomes almost overwhelmed by rapid change, with increased demand on practitioners’ time and energy.  As a result, they urged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to carry out more digital-based reforms.
Head, International Tax, FIRS, Matthew Gbonjubola, at a Tax Breakfast Dialogue, organised by Deloitte in Lagos, admitted that some progress had been made through digitalising significant aspect of tax administration in Nigeria.
For instance, primary tax legislation is being reviewed to have a single tax administration law. FIRS has also commenced the publishing of a country-by-country regulation report as well as other tax guidelines that have helped ease the problem of clarity around tax management in the country.
“We are modernising and introducing technology in tax reforms to plug revenue leakages,” Gbonjubola added.However, some stakeholders believe the tax regulator is not doing enough to reduce the challenges companies face with regards to compliance. Hence, automating every step in the tax process could go a long way in removing the bottlenecks.
Automation is also seen as the way forward for companies that intend to efficiently plug every leakage.“With the increasing regulatory environment, penalties are going to be a given,” Yomi Olugbenro, Partner and West Africa Tax leader, Deloitte, said during a presentation. “Hence, companies cannot be looking at making money and allowing leakages. They need to leverage technology; because that is the only way you can be accurate and avoid time wasting.”
Mark Freer, Digital Leader, Africa Tax and Legal, Deloitte, Mark Freer, highlighted five digital trends that will define the future of tax and the legal profession.First, is big data, for organisations and authorities to begin to critically analyse the data in their possession and to leverage the insights for better tax services. Second, is the process automation, which requires robotic automation and integration of financial and other systems. Third is decision-making, as artificial intelligence is integrated in compliance and consulting capabilities.
The fourth trend is democratisation of knowledge. More people are gaining access to large information as result of the different new channels that are now springing up.

The fifth trend Freer highlighted is open networks, which speak to talent sourcing, crowd problem-solving, and sharing ecosystems.“Tax teams are no longer entirely based on traditional or full-time employees. However, crowd-sourcing or open talent models in the tax and legal market seem further off when compared to the use of IT graphic design and finance,” Freer noted.

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