Nigeria losses an average of $250 billion annually through tax evasion/ underpayment by International Oil Companies and other multinationals, the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler said on Wednesday.
Fowler, made this disclosure while speaking before the Hon. Michael Enyong Okon headed adhoc committee Investigating the FIRS’s accounting procedures.
According to Fowler, it is the contention of the FIRS that international oil companies and other multinational companies are not filing true and proper tax returns.
“We tend to believe that companies, especially multinationals would declare their figures properly, but organizations that deal with tax have estimated that well over 250 billion dollars is lost every year in tax revenue from companies that file low revenue as returns. So, I think we just have to change our approach and assume that everyone is guilty until proven innocent when it comes to the issues of tax.”
Fowler, while answering questions on the non- compliance of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on issues of Tax returns disclosed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC is owing $300 million in tax arrears.
The computation of the outstanding, Fowler said, was done by the NNPC itself and that the FIRS’ should have a proper assessment after the audit of the NNPC is concluded in June.
Subsequently, the committee summoned the Minister of State for Petroleum Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to appear before it at its siting next week to shed light on some grey areas.
The lawmakers also wanted to know why the FIRS withheld part of the N7.5 billion tax refunds meant for some companies that had been overtaxed. The agency had requested for the funds from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) received it, but some of the affected companies alleged they never got it.
Hon. Michael Enyom Chairman of the ad hoc committee wondered why the FIRS would receive the amount only to deprived some of the firms that have legitimate claims in the refund.
Fowler said: “In the case of tax refund, the N7.5billion released on 19th December,2014, report arising from the committee’s investigation reveals that some of the said approved cases were not implemented as monies received were not paid to all those who were listed in the request.”
According to him, certain criteria were used for consideration and payment in order to avoid paying an underserving company.
He however promised to look into the matter, with the assurance that such an incident would not occur again.
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