The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has identified at least 6,772 tax defaulting billionaires through information sourced from their bank accounts data.

The FIRS, Chairman, Tunde Fowler, who gave this hint in Lagos at a stakeholders’ forum disclosed that the Service would soon clamp down on the bank accounts of the defaulting billionaire taxpayers for non-payment of due taxes on their incomes.

Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler
Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler

To ensure that the exercise succeeds, the Service, through banks in the country, will do substitution on accounts for such identified taxpayers.

The FIRS boss noted that most of such taxpayers, who have between N1 and N5 billion in their accounts have no Taxpayer Identification Number, TIN, or have TIN and have not, filed any tax returns as taxpayers.

He explained: “What we have done is what we call ‘substitution’ which also is in our laws which empowers us to appoint the banks as collection agents for tax. So, all these ones of TIN and no pay and no TIN and no pay, to the total of 6772 will have their accounts frozen or put under substitution pending when they come forward.

“First, they refused to come forward in 2016, they refused to come forward under VAT and are still operating here. So, we are putting them under notice that it is their civic responsibility to pay tax and to file returns on these accounts.

“We looked all businesses, partnerships, corporate accounts that have a minimum turnover of N1 billion per annum for the past three years. First of all, the law states clearly that before you open a corporate account, part of the opening documentation is the tax I.D. From the 23 banks, we have analysed so far, we have 31,395 records, out of which effectively minus duplications we had 18,602.

“We broke those into three categories: Those that have TIN tax I.D, those that don’t have no TIN and of course no TIN no pay and those that have TIN and have not even paid anything.

“So, on a minimum, every company or business included here over the last three years have had a banking turnover of N3 billion and above. Some of them have had banking turnover of over N5 billion and have not paid one kobo in taxes. Now the total number of TIN and no pay is 6772”, the FIRS boss added.

He noted that FIRS was also paying closer attention to taxpayers nationwide

He said: “We have started a comprehensive audit exercise that involves both national and regional audits… because we got to a position where we found out that majority of the major organizations that were allowed to do self-assessment, do not truthfully declare or pay the taxes that were due. To date, we have raised assessment of over N805 billion from 1324 National Audits out of which 499 (taxpayers) have N219 billion.

Fowler disclosed also that the Service had found out that a number of businesses collect VAT that do not remit to government while others were not even registered taxpayers and were collecting VAT.