The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it has so far recovered about N12.7 billion tax revenues from billionaire tax evaders since it launched its accounts substitution policy over a month ago.
Early this month, Chairman of the service, Tunde Fowler, said about 6772 accounts with balances of between N1 and N5 billion were identified without their owners having taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) and do not file any tax returns.
Mr Fowler promised the FIRS would leverage on the customer data from the 23 deposit money banks to pursue defaulters and recover the tax revenues.
Under the arrangement, the FIRS chairman said banks were appointed as tax collection agents to realise the account substitution policy.
Briefing the supervising finance minister, Zainab Ahmed, on FIRS efforts to shore up tax revenue during her spot visit to the Revenue House in Abuja on Friday, Mr Fowler said the agency was making significant progress in realising its mandate.
Shorty on resumption of office last week, Mrs Ahmed noted the huge challenge of revenue mobilisation the finance ministry has to contend to help government raise enough funding for capital projects development.
Mrs Ahmed succeeded Kemi Adeosun, who resigned recently in the wake of the forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate scandal she was enmeshed in since July.
A statement from the FIRS said Mr Fowler told the minister one area the significant achievements were recorded was in the account substitution initiative, with about N12.66 billion recovered and paid into government treasury.
“The FIRS wrote to all commercial banks in May 2018 requesting for a list of companies, partnerships, and enterprises with banking turnover of N1billion and above. This activity is aimed at ascertaining those companies that are compliant with the tax laws and those that are not compliant. So far, the non-compliant organisations have paid about N12.66billion to government,” the chairman disclosed.
The chairman said the FIRS would continue to implement initiatives that would drive compliance and generate revenue by continuous taxpayer enlightenment; implementation of the auto value added tax (VAT) collection in other sectors of the economy.
Besides, Mr Fowler said the FIRS also realised about N2.98 billion from payment on demand notices from property owners, who were assessed based on their turnover, with 653 of the 2,672 property owners beginning to file their returns.
On enforcement, the chairman said the FIRS collected about N47.5 billion from 2016 till date and $32.8millio, £5.9 million, and N225 billion from revenue audit, in addition to over N1trillion collected between January and August last year.
On VAT collection, he said about N773.49 billion was realised in the last eight months, which already surpassed the 2015 figures (N767.33 billion), and set to exceed 2016’s (N828.19 billion) and 2017 (N972.30 billion) with about four months left in the year.
Again, he said e-stamp duties collection recorded steady increase, with about N10.10 billion collected so far in 2018, surpassing 2017 (N10.9 billionn), 2016 (N5.6 billion), and 2015 (N7.1 billion).
Other activities include simplification of the tax processes, especially for small taxpayers; strengthening collaboration with other agencies such as the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), states’ boards of internal revenue; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
In her response, Mrs Ahmed, who reiterated government’s challenge in raising the non-oil revenue, assured the ministry would continue to work collaboratively with the FIRS to support all efforts they were making boost revenue.
“As much as possible, we should interface frequently. For us (ministry), the directive is to increase the tax revenue. That is the most important task ahead of all of us. The FIRS has done well. But, the reward for good work is more work,” she said.
Enjoining the FIRS to keep up the good work, Mrs Ahmed urged said the entire country was looking up to it to help increase revenue collection to support government’s development efforts.
Besides, she urged other government agencies to help President Muhammadu Buhari’s realise his objective of eradicating corruption in the system by working together to expose all corrupt persons in the system.
She said the Federal Government’s drive under the medium term plan to diversify the economy away from oil revenues to non-oil revenues would rely on the work of FIRS to raise non-oil revenues.
The minster noted FIRS initiatives to expand the revenue base, significantly improve tax collection by taking tax offices closer to the people, and making it easier for people to pay their taxes by online and e-tax payment procedures.
Noting increased cooperation between FIRS and several agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other crimes Commission (ICPC) and the NCS, Mrs Ahmed said such cooperation would enhance tax collection from defaulters.
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