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FIRS collects N13bn from billionaire tax defaulters

FIRS

Less than a month after it commenced its substitution of accounts of recalcitrant billionaires who have not been paying commensurate taxes, the Federal Inland Revenue Service has announced the collection of N12.66 in tax revenue from this category of Nigerians.

The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Tunde Fowler, stated this on Friday when he received the new Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, during her spot visit to the Revenue House in Abuja, according to a statement made available to our correspondent on Sunday.

Fowler told the minister that the initiative had pooled about N12.66bn into the government coffers.

He stated, “The FIRS wrote to all commercial banks in May 2018 requesting for a list of companies, partnerships, and enterprises with banking turnover of N1bn 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 N12.66bn

“The FIRS will continue to implement initiatives that will drive compliance and generate revenue by continuous taxpayer enlightenment; implementation of the Auto VAT Collect in other sectors of the economy; simplification of the tax processes, especially for small taxpayers; strengthening collaboration with other agencies such as the Corporate Affairs Commission, states’ boards of internal revenue; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; and the Nigeria Customs Service.”

The minister commended the agency for raising the non-oil revenue, saying, “The Ministry of Finance will continue to work collaboratively with the FIRS to support all the efforts that you are making. And as much as possible, we should interface frequently.

“For us, the directive I have is to increase the tax revenue and that is the most important task ahead of all of us. You have done well. And the reward for good work is more work.”

Ahmed urged the FIRS to maintain the tempo, as the entire country depended on its work of increasing revenue collection to support the government.

She urged government agencies to work together to detect and expose all corrupt persons in the country, stating that this was President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.

Ahmed stated, “The FIRS is a very important agency of government. I want to underscore this importance. The FIRS is one of the first agencies in the Ministry of Finance that I am meeting. The Federal Government’s Medium Term Plan is hinged on diversifying the economy away from oil revenues to non-oil revenues. And the report that the executive chairman of the FIRS has presented indicates that the diversification effort is working. This is reflected in the contribution of non-oil revenues over the last three years.

“I am happy that we have a team in the FIRS that is not only expanding the revenue base, but also significantly improving tax collection and taking tax offices closer to the people, and making it easier for the people to pay their taxes by online and e-tax payment procedures that you have undertaken. And I am sure, from what I have heard today, that you would continue with all these processes.”

She added, “I am also glad that you are increasing cooperation with several agencies like the EFCC, ICPC and Nigeria Customs Service. This is important because the directive from the President on anti-corruption involves cooperation within yourselves as well as with anti-corruption agencies. It makes a lot of sense to prioritise tax collection to larger categories, from the big ones to other ones.

“The effort you are making in Abuja, Lagos and Osun (on payment of taxes on property using turnover as basis for assessment) is a commendable one and I encourage you to maintain the tempo in generating tax revenues.”

The minister stated that the country needed to continue with the efforts to strengthen the non-oil sector, stating that the part that the FIRS should play was to continue with its efforts so that the non-oil sector would generate larger part of the tax revenue on sustainable basis.

The FIRS chairman also told the minister that the agency realised the sum of N2.983bn from payment on demand notices from property owners, who were being assessed based on their turnover, and that 653 of 2,672 property owners had starting filing now.

From enforcement, Fowler said the FIRS had collected a total of N47.5bn from 2016 till date and $32.8m, £5.9m, netted N225bn from audit, and collected more than N1tn above its January to August collection for last year.

He stated that Value Added Tax receipt was on a steady increase, adding, “So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected N773.49bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2015 (N767.33bn), and is set to surpass that of 2016 (N828.19bn) and 2017 (N972.30bn) with four more collection months left in the year.

“E-stamp duties’ collection is on a steady increase. So far in 2018, the FIRS has collected N10.10bn in eight months. The above collected this year has already surpassed that of 2017 (N10.9bn), 2016 (N5.6bn), and 2015 (N7.1bn)”, Fowler said.

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