Tax defaulters owe N254 billion, says FIRS

Federal Inland Revenue Service HQ Abuja
Federal Inland Revenue Service HQ Abuja

A total of 23,141 defaulters owe N254 billion in tax liabilities, the Federal Inland Revenue Service has said.

The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, made this known at the 49th Annual Accountant Conference organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria in Abuja.

The FIRS boss also said that the agency recovered over N97.7 billion from tax defaulters since it gave the directive to banks, adding that the tax defaulters are yet to come forward to clear their outstanding liabilities.

He said: “FIRS in collaboration with the banks has started engaging in compliance measures with regard to the tax defaulters and their accounts.

“Failure to carry out this directive will result in the banks being sanctioned according to Section 31 subsection 1-3 and 32 respectively of the FIRS Act 2007.”

Mr Fowler explained that if the default continues, the agency will apply appropriate sanctions by delisting defaulting banks from the FIRS collection list.

The FIRS chair disclosed that out of 44,293 non-compliant companies, 3,976 already paid about N97.7 billion. Through the banking turnover exercise, he said the FIRS recovered N88.59 billion after reaching an agreement with 3,797 out of 42,736 companies.

Under the tax substitution programme, the FIRS intensified its efforts to collect taxes from default payers by appointing banks and other financial institutions as collection agents.

As collection agents, the banks were directed to make specific deductions from alleged tax defaulters’ accounts and pay such over to the FIRS in full or partial payment of the alleged tax debt. There have, however, been concerns raised by stakeholders on the legality of the method adopted.

Mr Fowler on Wednesday rationalised the agency’s collection method, vowing that he would do whatever he could to boost tax collection. Before taking the stance, he explained that the FIRS had undertaken tax amnesty programmes such as the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme without much success.

Through the substitution exercise, he said, FIRS increased tax revenue collection through a special tax audit, VAIDs, special investigation and the banking turnover initiatives.

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