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Alleged N2bn Tax Fraud: FIRS Begins NIMASA’s Investigation

There are strong indications that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) may be under investigations by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for suspected under-declaration of and outright failure to remit Value Added Tax (VAT) and With Holding Tax (WHT) collections.

Although the figures involved have not been made public, figures being bandied by a section of the media indicated that the agency’s liabilities for the alleged under-declaration could be up to N2 billion.

The FIRS is believed to be investigation NIMASA for the fiscal lapse with a view to determining the exact sum that it may have under-remitted to the Federation account or failed to declare as collections between 2013 and 2015.

A report by The Bridge News stated that NIMASA underpaid the VAT and WHT in local and foreign currencies to the tune of over N2 billion.

The news medium reported  that the under-payment of the tax in local currency comprised With-Holding Tax of N1,732,640,167.89 billion and VAT N850,583,503.53 million.

It also stated that when denominated in dollar and pound sterling, the unremitted tax comprised  WHT of $84,458.68, VAT of $5,595,175.23 million; WHT £37,512.47 and VAT totalling £37,512.47.

The FIRS was reported to have discovered the alleged VAT and WHT remittance shortfalls during a routine audit of NIMASA early 2018, following which it commenced a comprehensive  investigations into the discovery in order to determine the level of culpability of the revenue generating agency.

NIMASA’s Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi, was quoted as saying last Thursday that he was not aware of the investigations.

It would be recalled that the National Economic Council (NEC) had at its meeting in February accused key revenue generating agencies of under remittances and consequently employed the services of KPMG, a renowned audit firm to look into the books of the respective agencies.

Some of the agencies allegedly short-changing government through remittances include, NIMASA, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and 18 other revenue generating agencies.

The Council resolved to “decide on repayment plans for all concerned as well as stepping up oversight function on the relevant agencies to ensure remittance as and at when due”.

Expatiating on the challenges of tax administration efficiency in the country at a recent public forum, the Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had identified under-declaration of and non-declaration of income earned including income from government contracts and overseas trading; collection of VAT not duly remitted to FIRS; and charging of non-allowable personal expenses to company accounts, amongst the worrisome abuses of the system.

Determined to sanitise the system and encourage improved voluntary compliance, the Federal Government initiated the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), which set March 31, 2018 deadline for every tax defaulter to regularize their tax payment or face sanctions.

 

 

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