May 27, 2024

FIRS Opposes Additional Taxes for Child Online Protection Bill Funding



The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) firmly rejected the proposal to impose extra taxes and levies on business owners to generate funds for the Child’s Online Access Protection Bill. FIRS Chairman, Mr. Zacch Adedeji, represented by Mr. Mathew Osanekwu, expressed this stance during a session with the House Committee on Justice in Abuja.


The public hearing, which focused on the Child Online Access Protection Bill 2023, addressed concerns related to online violence against Nigerian children. Adedeji argued against adding to the existing burden through taxation and suggested that the bill should be funded via appropriation.


Adedeji stated, “The impression we have is that the funding will be through a levy. We already have eight different levies, and I advised that the funding should come by way of appropriation.” He emphasized that FIRS, responsible for revenue collection, had already been assigned revenue targets.


While supporting the bill’s intent, Adedeji highlighted the need to adopt global best practices and observed issues related to the bill’s proposed funding mechanism. He recommended appropriation instead of imposing additional levies.


Representatives from the Nigeria Communication Commission and the National Human Rights Commission also expressed concerns about funding through taxation. The Deputy Director, Legal, Nigeria Communication Commission, Abang Abua, noted the tax burden on operators, and the Deputy Director, Legal, National Human Rights Commission, Ms. Pwadumoi Okoh, proposed exploring existing laws to avoid duplicating efforts.


Usman Kumoh (APC-Gombe), representing the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, assured continued protection of children’s rights. He emphasized collaboration between parents and service providers to safeguard children online, clarifying that the bill aimed to allocate part of existing funds rather than imposing new taxes.


The Chairman of the House Committee on Justice, Olumide Osoba, described the bill as straightforward, emphasizing its focus on ensuring service providers contribute to safeguarding the internet for children. Osoba urged FIRS to prioritize protecting Nigerian children over tax collection.


Stakeholders present at the committee sitting included the Ministry of Women Affairs and the Data Protection Agency, among others. The public hearing shed light on the ongoing debate surrounding the funding model for crucial initiatives like child online protection in Nigeria.

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