|Babatunde Fowler is a new entry this year|
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 million) monthly.
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 payable.
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 Africa.
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.
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