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TAX DEFAULT: FIRS to go after bank accounts of 6,772 billionaires



Actionaid warns against increase in VAT, says it will slow down economy

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) said it would soon go after bank accounts of defaulting taxpayers in Nigeria who are raking in billions and are not paying taxes.

FIRS Chairman, Tunde Fowler, said the service would partner all banks in the country to do substitution on accounts for such identified taxpayers, noting that FIRS leveraged on banks data to identify 6772 of such defaulting billionaire taxpayers.

Fowler, who stated this at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos according to a statement on Sunday, pointed out that most of such taxpayers have between N1 and N5 billion in their accounts.

He said such individuals have no Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or have TIN and have not filed any tax returns as taxpayers.

“What we have done is what we call ‘substitution’ which also is in our laws which empowers us to appoint the banks as collection agents for tax. So, all these ones of TIN and no pay and no TIN and no pay, to the total of 6772 will have their accounts frozen or put under substitution pending when they come forward.

“First, they refused to come forward in 2016, they refused to come forward under VAIDS and are still operating here. So, we are putting them under notice that it is their civic responsibility to pay tax and to file returns on these accounts,” he said.

Read also: FIRS to begin sale of tax evaders’ properties

The FIRS boss explained that the service conducted a thorough analysis of all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts having a minimum turnover of N1 billion per annum for the past three years.

“First of all, the law states clearly that before you open a corporate account, part of the opening documentation is the tax I.D. From the 23 banks, we have analysed so far, we have 31,395 records, out of which effectively minus duplication we had 18,602.”

“We broke those into three categories: Those that have TIN tax I.D; those that don’t have no TIN and of course no TIN no pay; and those that have TIN and have not even paid anything.

“So, on a minimum, every company or business included here over the last three years have had a banking turnover of N3 billion and above. Some of them have had banking turnover of over N5 billion and have not paid one kobo in taxes. Now the total number of TIN and no pay is 6772.

“So, if someone is good in mathematics and you take the minimum level of N3 billion multiply by 409 and they are operating within our society and economy and do not remit or make any tax payment,” he explained.

According to him, FIRS is also paying closer attention to tax audit. He said, “We have started a comprehensive audit that involves both national and regional audits, because we got to a position where we found out that majority of the major organisations that were allowed to do self-assessment did not truthfully declare or pay the taxes that were due.

“To date, we have raised assessment of over N805 billion from 1,324 national audits out of which 499 (taxpayers) have N219 billion.”

Fowler added that, despite an increase in the revenue by FIRS in 2018, majority of the taxpayers that accounted for the revenue have not changed.

“If you look at 2017, there is an increase of close to N800 billion over the 2016 collection.

“The laws have not changed. And to a great extent, the consultants to these companies have not changed.

“The increase in 2018 so far showed N 1 trillion. If the same consultants advised or reviewed the accounts of the majority of the taxpayers, one would wonder why such large increases occurred. It is either the taxpayers did not disclose fully their financials to the consultants or the consultants involved in tax planning,” he said.


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