Babatunde Fowler is a new entry this
In the early days of his tenure as chairman of Lagos
Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) in 2006, Fowler was looking at
an average internally generated revenue of N3.6 billion ($10
million) monthly. Under his guidance, which included the
roll-out of an unprecedented educational campaign, in June 2015
the average amount had surged to more than N23 billion ($64
An observer in Lagos once noted upon seeing a crowd that he
thought people were queueing for the bus but "they actually
lined up to pay their share of taxes".
Starting at the Federal Internal Revenue Service (FIRS) of
Africa's largest economy in 2015, and unwilling to suffer the
slings and arrows of commodity price swings, he was able to
collect N3.3 trillion in tax revenue in 2016.
Part of Fowler's success has been his work to educate the
public and the private sector about tax and to spearhead
technology integration in Nigeria's tax system. For these
efforts, FIRS was awarded by African Tax Administration Forum
(ATAF) for the best innovation in Africa for its e-Stamp Duty
portal, a web-based self-service tool to calculate stamp duties
Other IT projects in the pipeline are the e-tax clearance
certificate and electronic notification of payment of
withholding tax credit notes.
Most recently, at the end of November, Fowler promoted a
nationwide campaign for a voluntary assets and income
declaration scheme that had over the past 15 months been
monitoring tax compliance and taking account of beneficial
ownership records, FATCA information and reviews of private
jets and yachts, as well as a review of the Panama Papers.
In previous interviews with international media he has
notoriously called evasion of tax a crime against society.
In 2017, Fowler also marked his first year in service as the
chairman of ATAF, bringing best practices together from across
Last but not least, in August 2017, Fowler was appointed to
the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax
Matters as first vice chairman. As one of 25 members on the
committee he will serve a four-year term.
International Tax Review believes that Fowler has
and will continue to strengthen capacity-building among
Africa's tax administrations and will contribute to a global
dialogue on curbing illicit financial flows.