Marketing Communication experts have condemned the proposed communications tax bill before the Eight National Assembly, describing the bill as evidence that the Federal Government “isn’t sensitive to the plight of the people”.
If the proposed communications tax bill is passed to law, telecoms subscribers in Nigeria may be facing tougher times in the months ahead. The bill, entitled ‘Communication Service Tax Bill (“CST” or the “Bill”) 2015’, seeks to enforce, charge and collect communication service tax (CST) on all electronic communication services at nine per cent which will be borne by subscribers.
Subscribers’ data released monthly by the telecoms industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the current industry’s Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) provided by the operators, indicated that the Federal Government may be reaping over N20 billion monthly from Nigerian subscribers if the bill is enacted into law.
The categories of communication services liable to the tax include voice calls, SMS, MMS, Data and Pay TV. For instance, Section 2 of the bill listed the chargeable services to include voice calls, SMS, MMS, pay per view TV stations, data usage from telecommunication services providers and internet service providers.
While the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will be responsible for the collection of the tax and its payment together with any interest and penalty into the Federation Account, the Federal Government will be responsible for the administration and management of the funds.
The bill provides that all service providers are to file tax returns and pay the tax due not later than the last working day of the month immediately after the month to which the payment relates. Failure to comply with this provision will attract stiff financial penalties on erring entities.
The bill, proposed by the government last month and currently being reviewed by the National Assembly, would see consumers of data, voice, SMS, MMS and pay-TV services hit with a nine per cent tax levied on service fees.
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