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Tax Evasion: FIRS Arrests Top Officials Of 10 Abuja Companies Over N121m Tax Liability

Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja – Worried by the activities of tax defaulters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Thursday clamped down on ten companies in the FCT for failure to file tax returns and remit collected revenues to offset their outstanding tax liabilities.

The companies in question owing the government a total of N121 million in tax arrears.

Some of the companies whose top officials were arrested by the Service included Don P Communications Limited, Ivory Suites and Nkoyo Restaurant. Others are Duby Guest Inn, Premium Guest Inn and Pacific Guest Inn, and Nordy and Ameo Hotels.

The Regional Coordinator, FCT Region, Mr. Galadima Saleh, who led the joint team of FIRS-FCT Regional Officials and the Special Enforcement and Investigation Unit for the exercise said the FIRS would let the law to take its full course on the tax offenders.

Galadima pointed out that FIRS did not enjoy carrying out enforcement exercise on any firm but that it would always fall back on using its constitutional powers to recover taxes from taxpayers who failed to voluntarily fulfill their tax obligations.

In his further remarks Galadima pointed out that “We want to take this step so that this will serve as a deterrent to other taxpayers who would want to evade tax. FIRS according to him now operates a self-assessment regime, that makes it possible for taxpayers to self-assess themselves and file their tax returns as at and when due. However if the taxpayer refuses to do so or if it is perceived that the taxpayer is under-assessing itself, FIRS will audit the company’s books and raise the appropriate assessment for the company.

“If the company fails to file its returns or remit taxes, as in the case of Value Added Tax (VAT), FIRS will be forced carry out enforcement on the company. This is what we are doing today.”

It would be recalled that the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Alhaji Kabir Mashi, had in September 25, 2014 directed all field offices across the country to commence full- scale enforcement exercise against corporate bodies and individuals who have not filed their tax returns nor voluntarily fulfilled their tax obligations.

The tax law requires companies, with 31st December as their end of Year Accounting Date, to file their tax returns on or before the end of June of every year, while payments of taxes were expected to be made not later than end of August.

Mr. Saleh said the enforcement exercise became necessary following the companies’ refusal to respond to several notices and letters of reminders asking them to fulfil their tax obligations.

He said the exercise was aimed at recovering arrears of taxes accruing to government from Company Income Tax (CIT), Education Tax (EDT), Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) as well as compelling the companies to file their annual tax returns.

Saleh added: “This exercise is the last option. We had sent series of letters, notices and even paid visits to the affected companies to remind them of their obligations. The Nigeria tax laws are liberal. People tend to forget that we all have obligations to pay taxes and more importantly, comply with the relevant tax laws of the country.”

Other companies who promised to pay their tax pay their obligations within one week were made to sign an undertaking with the FIRS.

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