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FIRS targets 40 million informal traders in fresh VAT boost

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Nigeria’s federal revenue agency said on Monday it had partnered with a traders association to collect value-added tax (VAT) from millions of informal traders, part of a push to widen the tax base by President Bola Tinubu’s government.

Africa’s largest economy has embarked on its boldest reform agenda in decades, including the removal of a popular petrol subsidy and restrictions on foreign exchange trading, a gamble by Tinubu to try boost sluggish growth.

Nigeria has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at around 10.8 percent of GDP, according to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). Only 47 percent of this year’s budget will come from revenues and the rest from borrowing.

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The FIRS said in a statement that it was partnering with the Market Traders Association of Nigeria (MATAN) to collect and remit VAT from its members, especially those in the informal sector, using a digital platform.

It said the partnership would help “curb the activities of touts, miscreants and self-imposed tax collectors involved in illegal tax collection in Nigeria’s market spaces.”

MATAN says it has more than 40 million traders, mostly in the informal sector where a majority of Nigerians earn a living.

The revenue agency said MATAN members will receive identity cards with tax identification numbers and a digital platform would track their turnover for tax purposes.

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