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Nigeria loses $15 billion annually to tax evasion, says FIRS

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Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler. Photo: Nairametrics

Sequel to the Nigerian Government announcement of a new $3billion credit line from the Bretton Woods Institutions to overhaul electricity infrastructure in the country, the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler has revealed that Nigeria loses about $15 billion to tax evasion annually.

However, a Development Economist, Odilim Enwegnara, believes the amount quoted by Fowler is grossly under-reported and estimated that about N17.8trillion is lost yearly to Nigeria’s inability to adopt the latest electronic revenue collection technology.

Fowler, who made the disclosure yesterday at a news conference in Abuja, said about 50 tax experts across the globe have been invited to chart ways to combat offshore tax evasion through the exchange of information regime.

Enwegbara, on the other hand, declared that Nigeria’s reluctance in adopting automated revenue collection such as e-tolling; e-automative and traffic management; e-VAT collection, and the reckless granting of tax waivers was costing the country a colossal sum annually.

He called on the Nigerian Government to set a machinery in motion to recover all waivers granted as well as an audit of under-reporting of volumes of crude oil by the international oil companies from Nigeria since the Year 2000, where he estimated that more than $300 billion would be recovered from the culprits.

Meanwhile, at the meeting, Fowler disclosed that Nigeria would implement the first Automatic Exchange of Information Standard by 2020, as part of the commitment to improving transparency in tax administration, increased tax revenue collection, enhanced effectiveness, and efficient service delivery.

Fowler said there are important linkages in tax compliance, domestic tax investigation, tax audit, information gathering framework and the international infrastructure for the exchange of information amongst authorities and nations.

“Nigeria had demonstrated her commitment to improving transparency around tax matters, when she signed a declaration and joined the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA), on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (AEOI), on 17th August 2017.

“Furthermore, to facilitate the process of implementing the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), Nigeria published the AEOI regulations in the Official Gazette of the Federation.

“Finalised and issued CRS guidelines, constructed and finished a dedicated building for the operation of the AEOI and put in place the necessary Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to operationalise the AEOI processes.”

Fowler equally encouraged other ECOWAS countries that have not committed to the AEOI standards to take necessary steps to do so, given its numerous for domestic resource mobilisation, explained.

He noted that an increase in mobility of income and assets had created a challenge for tax administration and that governments across the world were joining efforts to address such challenges.

Fowler said these challenges offer a global response to issues of international tax avoidance, tax evasion, illicit financial flows, money laundering and other harmful tax practices based cooperation and use of advanced technologies to tackle them.

Earlier, the Executive Secretary, West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF), Babatunde Oladapo, assured that the body is committed to contributing to the expansion of the global tax base through the exchange of information.

Oladapo said efforts were on to close the gap among nations, to ensure effective implementation of the exchange of information, adding that tax administration can only be done successful based on the availability of information.

He commended the OECD Global Forum for leading the drive for the automatic exchange of information that would ensure that a high network of individuals and multinationals were made to pay their taxes.

Also, the representative of the OECD Global Forum, Ervice Tchonaya, said the forum’s core mandate is to ensure effective implementation of the international standard for the implementation of the automatic exchange of information among countries.

He listed the forum’s instrument of intervention to include the Per-Review Process, In-Depth Monitory System, and Technical Assistance in the area of capacity building in the form of training and seminars among others.

The seminar, organised by WATAF in partnership with the OECD Global Forum, was themed: “Exchange of Information as a Tool to Combat Offshore Tax Evasion,” aimed at sharing experiences and build capacity across borders.


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