FIRS To Go After Bank Accounts Of Billionaires Owing Tax

Channels Television  
Updated September 10, 2018

Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, says the agency will soon go after the bank accounts of defaulting taxpayers who are raking in billions in Nigeria and are not paying taxes.

The FIRS boss said over 6,772 of such defaulting billionaire taxpayers have been identified by the FIRS, leveraging on banks data.

Fowler spoke about the issue at a stakeholder’s meeting in Lagos.

“There are Over 6772 of such defaulting billionaire taxpayers that have been identified by the FIRS, leveraging on banks data,” he said.

Most of the affected taxpayers, according to Fowler, have no Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or have TIN and have not filed any tax returns.

He said, “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 VAT 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.

“We looked at all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts that have 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 duplications we had 18,602.

“So, we are putting them under notice that it is their civic responsibility to pay tax and to file returns on these accounts.”

Fowler explained that FIRS had done a thorough analysis of all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts that have 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 duplications 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.

“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 also called for support from banks in other to fish out the bank accounts of the erring billionaires.

“I plead with the banks to support us, in supporting us, you are supporting Nigeria. In supporting Nigeria, you are supporting all Nigerians and those who have chosen Nigeria as home. And most of all, you are supporting a future that we can leave behind for the upcoming youth of Nigeria.”

He noted that FIRS is also paying close attention to accounts auditing.

“We have started a comprehensive audit exercise that involves both national and regional audit because we got to a position where we found out that majority of the major organisations that were allowed to do self-assessment, do not truthfully declare or pay the taxes that were due.

“Till date, we have raised an assessment of over N805 billion from 1324 National Audits out of which 499 (taxpayers) have N219 billion.”