The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria wants churches who run other businesses to pay taxes on them.
Religious bodies, especially churches, are registered as a not for profit organizations and in Nigeria, they are sp registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
But the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), has come out to state that these bodies have deviated from laid down rules of the CAC and many have set up business ventures which are supposed to be separate from the church itself and therefore, should be taxed.
The FRCN cited examples of churches running schools where they collect money from students, companies where they make profits, buy and own luxury items like private jets and expensive cars without paying taxes, still operating the businesses under the auspices of the church.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the FRCN, Jim Obazee, there is a need to ensure accountability and probity in the financial activities of religious bodies especially churches and other non-profit ogranisations.
“They are registered with CAC under part C as non- profit organisation and they refuse to be accountable, because when they do their registration, they put within the registration documents they gave to CAC that they will be holding Annual General Meeting and presenting to their members audited financial statements.
We are wondering why people who ordinarily talk about giving your account, teaching you how to account to God, how you run your life, are refusing to account to stakeholders on how they manage funds that are received from people who believe in the objectives that they are pursuing.
Government business is to protect its citizens and citizens are the ones putting its money in all these not for profit. So we want to know; how accountable are they? and if they pursue non-charitable activities like running schools, hospitals, airlines and all of that, we want them to account for those ones separately as profit-making entities."
What this means is that going by laid down registration procedures, churches are supposed to hold annual general meetings and render accounts to the members who pay the tithes and make offerings.
In addition to this, any church that operates any other business that is meant to bring in profit, should be made to pay taxes.
On Morning Teaser today, we ask: do you support the call that religious bodies that run business ventures should be made to pay taxes?