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Senate asks FIRS to recover N17 billion ‘unpaid taxes’

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The Senate has ordered the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to go after companies that failed to pay their taxes in 2015.

A report by the office of the Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) said the FIRS lost up to N17.69 billion in 2015 to some companies whose addresses it claimed could no longer be traced.

The Senate ordered Muhammad Nami, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, to go after the defaulters, recover and remit the revenue to the consolidated revenue fund (CRF) within 90 days.

It added that all companies that failed to file their annual returns should be blacklisted.

The Senate issued the order based on the recommendations by the committee on public accounts in its report on the audit queries issued by the Auditor-General for the year under review.

“The Federal Inland Revenue Service failed to recover the total sum of N17,690,341,565 from different companies in the year under review,” the AuGF said, in the query on the unrecovered taxes by FIRS.

“The unrecovered taxes are made up of Value Added Tax, Company Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Education Tax and NITDEF.

“Though the FIRS in its response to the query said it had recovered N2,879,152, 077.76 but actual receipted recoveries made by FIRS was N273, 038,474.74, leaving a balance of N17,417,303,090.90 to be recovered.

“Several companies were also discovered to have defaulted in filing their annual returns, many of which FIRS said could not be located due to change of addresses.”

The Senate also directed the FIRS to sanction its officials involved in an alleged overlapping and splitting of contracts between 2014 and 2015.

It called for the identification and punishment of the guilty officials.

The upper chamber told the agency to remit N32.44 million into government coffers within 90 days with evidence of compliance submitted to the Auditor – General and the Senate public accounts committee.

“A contract for the sum of N32, 667,600.00 awarded by FIRS , was split and distributed to four companies, whose submissions were earlier rejected mainly to accommodate the approval ceiling of the Chairman, contrary to Financial Regulations 2921,” the query reads.

“The Audit also revealed that a total of N32, 449,743,61 contracts under recurrent expenditure were awarded by the agency in the 2014 financial year and paid for in the month of January, 2015, contrary to financial regulation 414(b).”

Following the adoption of the report of the Auditor-General, the Senate directed FIRS to pay the contract sum back into government coffers and submit evidence of compliance to the office of Auditor-General of the federation and its committee on public accounts.

On Sunday, the FIRS said it has filed an appeal against the recent judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, which restrained it from collecting value added tax (VAT) and personal income Tax (PIT) in the state

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