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FIRS Grants A One-Off 1 Month Extension To Taxpayers To File CIT Returns



Federal Inland Revenue Service- Investorsking

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has granted a one-off 1-month extension to all taxpayers to file Companies Income Tax (CIT) returns and payment of tax liabilities for companies with 31 December accounting year-end.

According to the report, the extension also affects the ongoing exercise for reconciliation of unutilized withholding tax (WHT) credit notes for all companies on TaxPro-Max.

Extended grace has been given to companies who are affected, they have until 31 July 2021 (the new deadline) to regularise their tax profile on TaxPro Max, submit their CIT returns and pay the resulting tax liabilities to avoid payment of late filing penalties and interest on outstanding tax liabilities.

In order to complete the CIT filing process, taxpayers’ will be required to upload excel versions of their income tax computations (not more than 200kb) on the portal and submit hard copies of their signed audited accounts at their respective tax offices. Further, the Payment Reference Number (PRN) (formerly known as Document Identification Number) generated after successful submission of returns will remain valid until midnight of the new due date of filing of the tax. However, companies can continue to make their Value Added Tax (VAT) & WHT payments using the “Branch TIN”.

Finally, the FIRS urged taxpayers who may still have difficulties with filing their returns on TaxPro-Max to escalate such issues to their dedicated virtual situation room support officers at their respective tax offices.

KPMG comments on the extension

We commend the FIRS for extending the filing deadline in response to stakeholders’ concerns on the technical challenges experienced with WHT reconciliation, generating the relevant PRN for prompt payment of tax liabilities and submission of CIT returns on TaxPro-Max. These technical issues were not surprising given how close to the filing deadline the updated portal was launched. It is expected that the extension will avail both the FIRS and taxpayers of the opportunity to promptly address most of the identified issues to ensure a smooth filing season. In this regard, the limited option for document upload, by which taxpayers are required to submit hard copies of their signed audited accounts with their respective tax offices, needs to be addressed to achieve full automation of filing tax returns.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the extension covers companies that are not required to file their CIT returns on TaxPro-Max, such as non-resident companies, free trade zones enterprises, or companies with foreign currency-denominated audited accounts. Pending further announcement by the FIRS, these Companies can either ensure that their CIT returns are submitted to their respective tax offices or alternatively apply for an extension of time to file their returns, as the case may be.

Relatedly, the FIRS Public Notice did not address the contentious issue of forfeiture of unvalidated WHT credit notes after the 30 June 2021 deadline noted in its Information Circular No.: 2021/07 (Please refer to our Tax Alert Issue No. 6.6 of 22 June 2021). The TaxPro-Max is expected to provide a more flexible platform for seamless tax compliance and continuous reconciliation of tax positions between the FIRS and taxpayers. Therefore, the FIRS should exercise caution in prescribing and implementing rules on the use of online platforms that are not supported by extant tax laws.

In the meantime, affected companies should in their own interest take advantage of the extended deadline to reconcile their WHT credit position, regularise their tax positions and file their CIT returns on the TaxPro-Max to avoid exposure to penalties.

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Banking Sector

Fidelity Bank Promotes 745 Staff Members



Nneka Onyeali Ikpe, Fidelity Bank CEO - Investors King

Seeking to increase staff morale while empowering them to work more efficiently, Fidelity Bank has announced the promotion of 745 employees following the performance review of two financial years – 2019 and 2020.

A total of 461 staff members benefited from the FY 2019 promotion exercise, while 284 staff members benefited from the FY 2020 exercise. The beneficiaries cut across the senior, middle, and junior management cadre of the bank, and the promotion was based on merit, using a transparent and robust performance management system in line with global best practices.

Speaking about this, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc said “I am very delighted to announce the promotions for 2019 and 2020 financial years. Releasing the list for 2 financial years’ promotion at the same time is something we are very proud of. We strongly believe that the continuous growth of our bank over the years has been largely attributed to the commendable efforts and unrelenting sacrifices of our employees. Promotion is one of the many ways we express our gratitude. We are thankful to be home to many amazing talents that continue to drive our value and most importantly, serve our stakeholders to the highest standards.”

Speaking further, she said. “Since I was appointed the MD/CEO of our great bank in January 2021, I have been committed to a 7-point agenda to move our bank further, out of which workforce transformation is a key category. Staff performance and reward are critical to us, and as an organisation, we will continue to make available adequate resources to deepen the skills and entrench a culture of high performance amongst employees. I wish to appreciate all members of the Fidelity Bank family for their commitment and drive and unrelenting sacrifices towards delivering our objectives. As we move forward in our quest to becoming a leading tier-one bank, I encourage all elevated staff to see their promotion as a call to rededicate themselves to excellence.”

Fidelity Bank has continued to empower its employees with invaluable resources capable of putting them at the forefront of innovative transformation. In March 2021, the bank announced two capacity-building projects – One Culture Project and Project Alpha – that were targeted at transforming the workplace for its staff. In particular, Project Alpha was created to help Fidelity Bank develop a robust and holistic learning and development framework for all staff while One Culture Project was formed to reinforce the behaviour and value systems that will help the bank, as well as staff, achieve set goals.

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Nigeria’s Central Bank To Launch Digital Currency On Oct 1



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that it will launch its much-awaited digital currency on October 1, to mark Nigeria’s independent anniversary.

CBN Director of IT Department, Rakiya Mohammed, revealed this at a private webinar, explaining that the banking sector regulator had been conducting research towards the launch of digital currencies since 2017.

She added that the central bank may conduct a proof of concept before the end of the year. The move to adopt the digital currency was first mulled by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, during the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in May.

He had said a digital currency will soon become a reality in the country, adding that the central bank had already set up its committee which was working on the concept.

The CBN governor had further restated the determination of the apex bank to drive the e-Naira project during the recent 306th Banker’s Committee meeting, pointing out that the process was ongoing.

Mohammed was quoted by Nairametrics to have highlighted the benefits of the digital currency, saying it would enhance macroeconomic management, boost economic growth, facilitate cross-border trade, boost financial inclusion and monetary policy effectiveness.

Mohammed said the digital payment instrument would further improve payment efficiency, revenue tax collection, remittance improvement, and targeted social intervention.

She added that the innovation would also benefit the fintech ecosystem by enhancing operational efficiency, opportunities for fintech start-ups in building services and products as well as financial inclusion that will contribute to economic growth, and the creation of a new system complimenting the traditional payment system.

Mohammed had last month said the proposed digital would be launched before December. According to her, every Nigerian would have access to digital currency.

She had while briefing journalists at the end of a Bankers’ Committee meeting said: “Let me state categorically that cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and the rest of them are not under the control of the central bank; they are purely private decisions that individuals make and are not part of this arrangement.

“We have spent over two years studying this concept of central bank’s digital currency and we have identified the risks. And it is one of the reasons why I said we are setting up a central governance structure that would involve all industry stakeholders to access all the risks as we continue on this journey.

“Very soon we would make an announcement on the date for the launch and by the end of the year, we should have the digital currency.”

According to her, about 80 percent of central banks across the world are presently exploring the possibility of issuing the central bank’s digital currency, saying that Nigeria cannot be left behind.

Mohammed had added: “You are aware that we have two forms of fiat money: The notes and the coins. So, the central bank’s digital currency is the third form of fiat money. So, this digital money is going to complement the cash and note that we have.

“The central bank digital currency will just be as good as you having cash in your pocket. So, if you are having the currency in your pocket, you are as good as having cash on your phone.

“Now, why did we need to go into this? There are different cases that the central bank is looking at.

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UK Financial Reporting Council Sanctions KPMG On Quality Of Banking Audits




The United Kingdom Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has sanctioned one of the biggest audit firms, KPMG LLP over the quality of its banking audits which U.K.’s industry regulator said it was “unacceptable” that for the third year running the accounting firm’s work wasn’t up to scratch.

The FRC in its annual report released on Friday examined the U.K.’s seven biggest auditing firms, which include Ernst & Young and Deloitte, said almost 30 percent of all bookkeeping was below par in the year to the end of March.

“Overall Inspection results at KPMG did not improve and it is unacceptable that, for the third year running, the FRC found improvements were required to KPMG’s audits of banks and similar entities.

“Given the systemic importance of banks to the UK economy, the FRC will be closely monitoring KPMG’s actions to ensure findings are addressed in a timely manner.

“KPMG has agreed on additional improvement activities to be delivered this year over and above its existing audit quality improvement plan,

“In response to our findings this year, the firm’s senior leadership has committed to making further changes necessary to improve audit quality in time for 2021 year-end audits.

“We will monitor these closely to assess on a timely basis the extent to which they address our findings,” the report released on Friday stated.

The FRC said that “We will also continue to focus our inspections on KPMG banking audits.”

The regulator said central to achieving consistent audit quality is a healthy culture within the audit practice that encourages challenge and professional skepticism, as it set out in its letter to Heads of Audit
in December 2020.

“We have a major project underway to examine audit culture, including an international conference held in June this year on the subject.

“Operational separation of audit practices from the rest of the firm should help the largest firms to focus on developing an appropriate audit culture,” the FRC stated.

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