High profile tax defaulters got a 30-day window to regularise their tax status with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), failing which they risk forfeiting the tax equivalent directly from their bank accounts to the Federal Government.
The FIRS Executive Chairman Tunde, Fowler who dropped the hint on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) programme – Platform, said that banks have been instructed to “sweep the accounts of tax defaulters into the Federation Account after 30 days.
According to Fowler, the FIRS has written 23,000 letters to high-profile tax defaulters, whose names appeared on the list of defaulters. The accounts of the identified defaulters have been put on lien.
Some of the letters, he said, have not been delivered because the addresses of the defaulters may have changed, adding that “the FIRS is determined because as the Service is backed by law to sweep the equivalent of what such tax defaulters owe into the federation account.”
he FIRS boss noted that since the bank lien on tax defaulters’ accounts was initiated 60 days ago, the Service has granted an additional 30 days – making it 90 days – for the defaulters to regularise their tax status.
“At the end of the 90 days”, Fowler warned, “banks will be asked to sweep the tax owed into the Federation Account.”
He reiterated that more than N250 billion is waiting to be mopped up by the FIRS from the accounts of defaulters yet to regularise their tax status.
Fowler stated that bank accounts and properties whose owners cannot be identified would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC to investigate.
According to him, some accounts suspected to belong to the children of wealthy Nigerians who cannot come forward to claim the accounts have as much N100 million in them, stressing “there are many accounts like that”.
With regards to unclaimed properties, Fowler said over 60 properties registered in the names of corporate bodies cannot be linked to their owners because the corporate bodies they are registered against have denied ownership of the properties.
“Thirty-four of such properties have been taken over by the ICPC and another 30 in the process of being repossessed,” Fowler said.
He, however, announced an improvement on the cases of unremitted taxes in the past three years, attributing the development to the fact that Nigerians have become more aware of their civic duties to paying tax.