Tax Defaulters: FIRS Set To Wield Big Stick On 6,772 Nigerian Billionaires
After several months of speaking softly, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has declared that it would soon wield the big stick on defaulting taxpayers who are raking in billions in Nigeria and are not paying taxes.
According to a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos by the FIRS Chairman, Tunde Fowler, all banks in the country would do substitution on accounts for such identified taxpayers.
“There are Over 6,772 of such defaulting billionaire taxpayers being identified by the FIRS, leveraging on banks data,” Fowler said.
He noted that most of such taxpayers, who have between N1 and N5 billion in their accounts have no Taxpayer Identification Number, TIN, or have TIN and have not filed any tax returns as taxpayers.
“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 6,772 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,” Fowler said.
He explained that all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts that have a minimum turnover of N1 billion per annum for the past three years were considered.
He said that the law stipulated 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 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. Now the total number of TIN and no pay is 6,772.” Fowler said.