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FG collects N13bn from billionaire tax defaulters in less than a month

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By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief

The Federal Government has collected about N12.66 billion  in less than a month after it commenced its substitution of accounts of billionaire tax defaulters in the country.

Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Mr Tunde Fowler, disclosed this while receiving Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, at the.organisation’s headquarters in Abuja, weekend.

About a month ago, the FIRS  commenced substitution of the bank accounts of high networth billionaire tax defaulters.

Fowler told the minister that the initiative had pooled about N12.66 billion into the government coffers, adding that his team was confident of greater results in the months ahead.

He said:  “FIRS wrote to all commercial banks in May 2018, requesting for a list of Companies, Partnerships, and Enterprises with a banking turnover of N1 billion and above.

‘’This activity is aimed at ascertaining those companies that are compliant with the Tax Laws and those that are not compliant. So far, non-compliant organization have paid about N12.66 billion.

In her remarks, the minister said:  “The Ministry of Finance will continue to work in collaboration with FIRS to support all the efforts that you are doing.

“As much as possible, we should interface frequently. For us, the directive I have is to increase the tax revenue and that is the most important task ahead of all of us. You have done well. And the reward for good work is more work”.

Hajia Ahmed urged the FIRS to “maintain the tempo” because the country depended very on the work of the FIRS for its revenue.

She encouraged government agencies to work together to fish out all corrupt persons in the country, noting this was in consonance with President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive.

“The FIRS is a very important agency of government. I wanted to underscore this importance. FIRS is one of the first agencies in the Ministry of Finance that I am meeting.

‘’ The Federal Government Medium Term Plan is hinged on diversifying the economy away from the oil revenues to non-oil sector. And the report that the executive chairman of FIRS has presented indicates that the diversification effort is working. This is reflected in the turn of the contribution of non-oil revenues over the last three years.

“I am happy that we have a team in FIRS that is not only expanding the revenue base but also significantly improving tax collection and taking tax offices closer to the people and making it easier for the people to pay their taxes by online and e-tax payment procedures that you have undertaken. And I am sure that from what I have heard today, that you would continue with all these processes.

“I am also glad that you are increasing cooperation with several agencies such as the EFCC, ICPC and Nigeria Customs Service. This is important because the directive from the President for anti-corruption involves cooperation within yourselves as well as with anti-corruption agencies.

‘’It makes a lot of sense to priotise tax collection to larger categories: from the big ones to other ones. The effort you are making in Abuja, Lagos and Osun (on payment of taxes on property using their turnover as basis for assessment) is a commendable one and I encourage you to maintain the tempo in generating tax revenues,” she said.

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