Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler has disclosed that the agency has generated over N23 billion in unpaid taxes.
While speaking at the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Interactive Forum on Tax Matters, Fowler said the N23 billion was generated from the recently suspended substitution exercise on corporate bank accounts, marked by the imposition of restriction on the accounts of tax-defaulting organisations.
Recall that the FIRS had last week, halted the freezing of bank accounts of tax defaulters. The agency made this known in a series of tweets from its Twitter handle, which was also posted as a press release.
BREAKING: FIRS Directs Banks To Lift Lien On Tax Defaulters' Accounts
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has written to banks, directing them to lift the lien on tax defaulters' bank accounts for 30 days.
— FIRS Nigeria (@firsNigeria) February 15, 2019
Addressing the suspension of the exercise, Fowler stated that the suspension was occasioned by the deluge of corporate taxpayers visiting FIRS offices to regularise their tax affairs and make payments, a situation that stretched the service administratively, as it could not lift the lien on their accounts as quickly as it wished. Thus, the FIRS directed banks to lift restrictions on such accounts to allow affected tax companies to regularise their tax status within 30 days and begin to make arrangements for the liquidation of their tax liabilities.
Prior to the move to suspend tax defaulters’ bank accounts, KPMG in a note recently issued had criticised the FIRS’ action, tagging it draconian.
“nothing in the cita or firsea authorises the firs to impose a
freeze order on a taxpayer’s bank account beyond the amount of tax proven to be due and payable by that taxpayer. the requirement directed to banks not to honour mandates from taxpayers over and above the tax amount supposedly proven by firs to be due and payable is without foundation and goes too far.” KPMG noted.
Meanwhile, it is pertinent to note that the agency’s tax collection hit an all-time high of N4 trillion. The agency exceeded its 2016 tax revenue collection by 20%. Taxes collected by the body thus increased from N3.3 trillion in 2016 to N4.0 trillion in 2017.
About the FIRS
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) started as part of a colonial tax organisation under the name Inland Revenue Department of Anglophone West Africa. The department’s scope of administration covered Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. In 1943, the Nigerian Inland Revenue Department was carved out of the Inland Revenue Department of Anglophone West Africa and established as an autonomous body under the supervision of the Commissioner of Income Tax.