…Suspends tax officials, vows to root out fraudsters in tax offices
The Federal Government today said it had commenced investigations into over 200 whistleblowing tips on tax officials and taxpayers and the process of sanitising the tax administration and revenue collection system.
The allegations involve under declaration of taxes and demand by taxpayers and receipt of gratifications by tax officials.
Disclosing this while presiding over the meeting of the Whistleblower Unit in the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) in Abuja, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said that the sanitization of the tax administration and revenue collection system was part of government’s efforts at enhancing tax compliance.
She also hinted that her ministry had requested and secured the suspension of two senior tax officials in Delta and Benue States based on verified tips from Whistle-blowers.
Adeosun explained: “The Ministry is currently analysing over 200 additional whistle-blowing tips including recordings between tax officials and potential taxpayers in which various practices, designed to reduce tax payable, were detailed.
“These practices include demands for personal gratification by tax officers, promises to procure backdated tax clearance certificates, and offers to conspire to reduce taxes payable”, the minister added.
According to her, as a way of dealing with the influx of the whistle-blowing tips more effectively, the Minister has directed the reorganization of the Whistleblower Unit to fast track reports relating to those in the revenue generating agencies.
She clarified further: “Encouraging our citizens to pay taxes is a matter of law but it is also a matter of trust. Those who work in our tax offices must therefore demonstrate the highest level of integrity. The Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari understands that to reduce our reliance on oil means every citizen must pay their taxes as and when due.
“However, people will not be encouraged to pay if they believe that those involved in the assessment are not transparent or are dishonest. We will continue to sanitise the system and also improve our controls,” the Minister said.
While assuring that the Ministry of Finance will continue to root out fraudsters from compromising the integrity of the tax administration and revenue collection system, Adeosun commended members of the public for volunteering valuable information, including voice recordings and other evidences to the Whistleblower Unit.
The Minister advised members of the public to eschew all forms of abuses in their tax payment, including the procurement of tax certificates that are not consistent their true income, advising those who might have procured such tax certificates in the past by fraudulent means to explore the opportunities availed by the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularise their tax profiles.
She said: “We have cases of procurement of tax clearance certificates with no corresponding records or assessments in the tax offices. In such cases, although payments have been made but there are no underlying assessment. So automatically, we will flag such companies for investigation.
“The data analysis being undertaken within the Federal Ministry of Finance is readily exposing those who have obtained tax clearance certificates that are either forged or are not consistent with their true income levels”, the minister concluded.