FIRS to pursue 40,000 millionaire tax defaulters, enlists police support

Babatunde Fowler, FIRS Chairman
Babatunde Fowler, FIRS Chairman

Wealthy tax defaulters who are yet to clear their liabilities with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) are in for rough times ahead as the executive chairman of the agency, Tunde Fowler, says it will go after them in 2019.

Mr Fowler said the Service will work with security agencies like the Nigeria Police Force, to recover the outstanding liabilities from defaulters.

The chairman was speaking on Thursday when the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, visited him in Abuja.

So far, he said following close scrutiny of the financial records of over 45,000 tax defaulters with over N100 million turnover each in their accounts, the Service realized about N23 billion.

He said the Service will soon go after another set of 40,000 tax defaulters with a minimum million Naira account turnover in 2019.

To realise its objective, the chairman said the FIRS has already requested the Nigeria Police to help bring the tax defaulters to pay their taxes.

Last month, Mr Fowler hinted during the FIRS management retreat in Lagos about plans to identify and tax bank account holders with over N100 million as turnover, but without any evidence of tax payment:

“We looked at businesses, partnerships of any activity that has banking turnover between N100 million and N999 million,” he said.

He said the agency has already reviewed the businesses of these groups, while about seven banks are still waiting for returns to review their information.

The chairman said the service has so far identified about 45,361 with the tax identification number (TIN) and making payments.

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“We have 40,611 with TIN, and paying tax. We also have 44,504 with no TIN and not paying tax. So, at a glance, there are close to 75,000 who are not taxpayers.

“We have said payment of tax is not only for the civil servants. It’s for all Nigerians, including millionaires and billionaires”, Mr Fowler said.

Successful year

Mr Fowler thanked the Nigerian Police for its support and collaboration over the years and requested for more to enable it to recover due taxes from more than 40,000 rich tax evaders in 2019.

Describing 2018 as a successful year, Mr Fowler said the FIRS realized over N5.320 trillion of tax revenue during the year, the highest revenue collection in its history.

He said the achievement was significant given that it was a period oil prices averaged between $50 and $70 per barrel.

Details of the collection showed oil revenue was N2.467 trillion (46.38 percent), against the non-oil element of N2.852 trillion (53.62 percent)

In his response, the Police IG, said the Police will continue to support the FIRS since the nation depends on its revenue generation for survival.

Mr Fowler said the various initiatives implemented by FIRS to enhance tax administration and make taxation as easy as possible included the deployment of ICT to enhance tax payment at any time from anywhere in the world.

“With the e-payment channel, one can pay taxes with the click of a button and download receipts. Other e-Services are the e-Registration, e-Filing, -Stamp Duty and e-Tax Clearance Certificate,” he said.

The Chairman said the FIRS is automating the collection of Value Added Tax, in key sectors to facilitate a reduction in compliance cost in the long term.

Also, the service is doing a System to system integration between banks and FIRS, with about 25billion (about 31 percent) increase year-on-year in VAT collection in the banks realized between January 2017 and December 2018.

In addition, there is the Government Information Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), which links FIRS to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for real-time exchange of information and data.

“We are also automating the payment of VAT by states through the State Offices of Accountant General Platform (SAG). This will ensure deductions at source and remittance of VAT and withholding from State governments’ contract payments directly to FIRS’s account, from which N13billion has so far been collected.

“Tax clearance on the automated platform has grown from 9,574 to 59,350 within a year of its introduction.

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