The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has owned up to N17.69 billion tax evasion by some companies whose addresses it claimed could no longer be traced.
This is just as the upper legislative chamber ordered the Executive Chairman of the agency, Muhammad Mamman Nami, to go after the defaulting agencies for recovery of said tax and remit it into Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) within 90 days.
The Senate also directed FIRS to sanction its officers involved in alleged overlapping contracts and splitting between 2014 and 2015 and 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.
The decision by the Senate was sequel to the queries issued against FIRS and 104 other public agencies by the Office of Auditor – General of the Federation (AuGF) in the 2015 Audit report which was sustained and adopted by the Senate after considering the report of its Committee on Public Accounts as presented by the Chairman, Senator Mathew Urhoghide.
The AuGF in the query on the N17billion unrecovered taxes by FIRS had said: “The Federal Inland Revenue Service failed to recover the total sum of N17.69 billion from different companies in the year under review.
The unrecovered taxes, he said, are made up of Value Added Tax ( VAT), Company Income Tax( CIT), Withholding Tax ( WHT), Education Tax ( EDT) and NITDEF.
“Though the FIRS in its response to the query said it had recovered N2.87 billion but actual receipted recoveries made by FIRS was N273.03 million, leaving a balance of N17.41 billion to be recovered. Several companies were also discovered to have defaulted in filling their Annual Returns many of which FIRS said could not be located due to change of addresses, “he said.
The Senate in adopting the report shortly before going on annual vacation directed the Chairman of FIRS to recover the money and pay to the Consolidated Revenue Fund, while it also called for blacklisting of all companies that failed to file their annual returns.
The Red Chamber further stressed that, “evidence of compliance should be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee.”
The upper legislative chamber also took tougher stand over alleged contract overlapping and splitting by some officers of the revenue-generating agency by calling for their identification and sanctioning.
Another query by the AuGF against the FIRS reads: “A contract for the sum of N32, 667,600.00million 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 Audit also revealed that a total of N32, 449,743,61million 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)”.
In adopting 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.
With the Senate’s resolutions on the N17billion unrecovered taxes and N32million Contracts splitting and overlapping, the FIRS has about 60 days left, to make the required recoveries and remittances into the government coffers through the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).