The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has reported that 23,141 tax defaulters were owing currently N254 billion in tax liabilities.
This is even as the Service disclosed that since the commencement of its tax substitution programme for banks, it had recovered over N97.7 billion from tax defaulters.
Giving these hints at the 49th Annual Accountant Conference organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in Abuja, the Executive Chairman of the revenue agency, Mr Babatunde Fowler, said that despite the success recorded so far in the tax drive, any bank that failed to comply with the measures put in place to access defaulters’ accounts would be sanctioned.
He clarified: “As of today, there are a total of 23,141 tax defaulters who are yet to come forward to clear their outstanding liabilities of about N254bn. The FIRS in collaboration with the banks has started engaging in compliance measures with regard to the tax defaulters and their accounts.
“Failure to carry out this directive will result in the banks being sanctioned according to Section 31 subsection 1-3 and 32 respectively of the FIRS Act 2007”, the tax administrator added
According to him, such failure to comply with the directive will be interpreted as an act of economic crime to the nation, adding that the FIRS will by so doing compelled to enforce its rights and apply appropriate sanctions.
In his presentation at the forum, the FIRS chairman defended the position of the Service to sanction erring banks as a means of boosting the nation’s tax collection.
He explained that prior to the decision to sanction tax defaulters, the revenue agency had embarked on tax amnesty programmes such as the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) without much result to show for such a gesture in terms of defaulters’ tax compliance.
Fowler explained that through the substitution exercise, the Service had increased tax collections through special tax audit, VAIDs, special investigation and the banking turnover initiatives.
Giving an analysis of the N97.7 billion recovered from defaulters through the banking turnover exercise so far, Fowler disclosed that the amount was recovered from 3,976 out of 44,293 non-compliant companies.
It would be recalled that under the tax substitution programme, the FIRS appointing banks and other financial institutions as collection agents.
The banks were directed to make specific deductions from alleged tax defaulters’ accounts and pay such deductions to the FIRS in full or partial payment of the alleged tax debt.