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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says defaulting wealthy Nigerian taxpayers who have no Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN) have only a 30 days lien to do so. The agency also said other Nigerians and firms with a turnover of N100 million in their accounts, but not paying taxes have only a 30 days lien to do so. The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Tunde Fowler, announced the period of grace in Lagos during a meeting with Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) on Friday. Mr Fowler said about 59,000 companies charging for the Value Added Tax (VAT), and sometimes Withholding Tax (WHT), for their services, do not have TINs for the remittances to the FIRS of the VAT or WHT taxes they charge. He said the banks will return the lien on tax defaulters’ bank accounts after the 30 days grace period. The lien was lifted last Friday, February 15, 2019. To ensure tax justice, protect all taxpayers and also ensure that monies deducted from taxpayers in form of VAT or WHT by business owners are properly accounted for and paid into the right treasury, Mr Fowler said FIRS resolved to restrict the bank accounts of defaulters’.
He said last year, the FIRS, after reviewing the records from banks in the country, identified some operators who make a turn-over of between N100 million and N1 billion, but do not have TINs. However, in the course of their businesses, he said these operators charge VAT and perhaps WHT without remitting same to the FIRS. “If these companies do not have TIN, it means that they have not been paying their taxes. At the same time, they have not been remitting the VAT and WHT they charge on taxpayers to appropriate authorities, in this case, FIRS.” Criticizing the practice where companies would deduct monies meant for the government and fail to remit them to the appropriate agencies, Mr Fowler said if these people do not come forward to get TIN and pay appropriate taxes, FIRS will get their bank accounts frozen. “Tax payment is not only for civil servants or salary income earners alone. Millionaires and billionaires, who make incomes from this economy need to pay taxes. It is not fair for any business or any person who makes an income from this economy not to pay taxes. “Each of us must contribute to the national till. If any taxpayer has the opportunity to make their wealth in this economy, the least they can do is to pay their tax.” The Executive Chairman also explained that following turn-up of taxpayers to clear their arrears, the FIRS wrote to the banks to lift the lien on bank accounts temporarily for a period of 30 days. “In the last two weeks, the FIRS office was always besieged by taxpayers who want to clear their arrears,” he said. The Chairman said the situation came to a point where the FIRS had to send letters to banks to lift the lien for 30 days to enable taxpayers to regularise their accounts. To remove delays in receiving notifications after transactions on taxpayers’ accounts, the FIRS chairman said online solutions have been put in place to help taxpayers. He urged taxpayers to register their companies with their e-mails and telephone numbers, adding that once payments are made, notifications would be received instantly. He identified some of the initiatives the FIRS is adopting to improve VAT compliance to include Auto VAT collect, e-Services, VAT certificates, Central VAT filing, VAT coordination, Tax Audit and Investigation, Joint Tax Force, Taxpayer Education and SAG Platform (State Accountant General Platform). FIRS would honour proof of WHT deduction by any government agency. The President of MAN, Masur Ahmed, thanked the FIRS for conceding to their demands for a review of VAT charges on animal feeds. He said it was important for Nigeria to take a cue from other countries who have zero per cent VAT rate on animal feeds. The federal government, he said, should sign an Executive Order and Gazette that animal feeds should be VAT exempt in Nigeria. “This will go a long way to stabilizing the economy because VAT charges on animal feeds have adverse multiplier effects on the cost of production,” Mr Ahmed said.