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FIRS Targets N750 Billion from Millionaire Tax Defaulters

The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS hopes to pull in about N750 billion from about 55,000 defaulting taxpayers, Executive Chairman, Tunde Fowler said today in Abuja.

Fowler on the 24th of April 2019, told the House of Representatives joint committees on Finance, Appropriations, Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Legislative Budget and Research and National Planning and Economic Development on the 2019/2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP), that the substitution led to recovery of N23.25 billion.

He restated that the 85 per cent of VAT collected goes to State Governments.

“From the Bank Accounts substitution exercise, we used banking information to bring non-compliant taxpayers with N1 billion and above turnover to comply. It has so far resulted in the recovery of N23.35 billion. The exercise has been extended to cover those with turnover of N100 million and above.

“To date, about 500 of them have come forward and they have paid and we have collected in the region of about N24 billion. We believe we should be able to go through the 55,000 before the middle of this year which will be the 30th of June.

“In terms of estimates, which we should be able to generate from this exercise alone, that will be about N750 billion.

“Now when you look at Africa as a continent, Nigeria still has the lowest VAT rate. When we look at the items that are not VATable, basic food is not VATable, medicals, education. But if you decide and you have the ability to go to a restaurant to eat and drink the same thing you can buy in the open market, then you pay VAT. So VAT basically is a consumption tax and those who choose not to go to the open market to buy their food and cook at home are subject to VAT. So its (VAT) not a hardship on the low income earners because normally they don’t even go to hotels when their wives can cook at home and they can have something very nice.

“But the same Nigerians who are complaining about an increase are the same ones who go to Ghana and go and pay triple the amount in VAT or go to London and pay higher amount.

“Yes, we had in increase of about 32 per cent from N4.02 trillion in 2017 to N5.3 trillion in 2018. At the Federal level, clearly we can see all the projects that are being completed, based on the available funds.
I’m just saying that if we keep on the same way, the expectations cannot be different.

“For those who have the ability and the desire to take the choice, of going to areas where they have to pay VAT, then they should be allowed to pay VAT.
The FIRS Chairman told the committee that through enforcement activities in respect of defaulting taxpayers from various tax offices, tax audit and investigation assessments, FIRS has generated the sums of N28. 51 billion and 77. 83 million dollars.

Read more: firs-shut-down-9-companies-in-lagos-for-tax-defaults/

“FIRS and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) Joint Tax Force (JTF) was introduced in 2018 to enhance the fight against tax related economic fraud. As at December 2018, a total of N6. 94 billion and 278,430 dollars had been recovered by the JTF. This and other such initiatives are continuous and will be continuous going forward.’’

He said that FIRS also initiated income tax on property owners in Abuja and Lagos as part of efforts to deepen tax revenue collection and expand the nation’s tax net as well as increase the revenue base.

“This project which initially targeted property owners in Abuja and Lagos has so far yielded N4.3 billion, and is being extended to other locations. In this regard, Oyo and Kaduna states have commenced.

“It is important to note that this is not a property tax but rather the use of the provisions of the law to bring into the tax net companies that own properties but failed to file necessary tax returns and pay appropriate taxes due,’’ Fowler, explained.

On tax audit exercise of the Service, Fowler said “This covers both the National Tax Audit (NTA) and the Pioneer Audit (PA). The NTA exercise contributed the sum of N212. 79 billion to tax collection in 2018. Following improvements to the audit process and resultant increased efficiency, the exercise is expected to produce increased audit yield in 2019.”

Read more: what you need to know about tax in Nigeria

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