The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are putting a new breath to the fight against tax fraud and evasion in Nigeria as the two agencies will soon launch an anti-tax fraud and evasion team.
This collaboration, according to the FIRS Executive Chairman, Tunde Fowler, will ensure Nigeria’s financial security and independence, which he said, are key to national development.
Fowler made this known in Abuja at the opening of International Conference and Capacity Building Workshop on the Use of Beneficial Ownership Information and The Recovery of Assets in Africa hosted by the FIRS and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU He beckoned on Nigerians and the international community to collaborate in the fight against “any illegality”.
“Corruption is anything illegal. Whether it is money laundering, tax fraud, tax evasion or other illegalities. We must collaborate to fight them. When you are fighting corruption, you are taking back from the corrupt people, what they erroneously think belongs to them. That is why they resist the fight against corruption”, Fowler said.
The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, said that FIRS and EFCC have reached terms on the setting up of an anti-tax fraud team.
“We are setting up anti-tax fraud team to deal with tax fraud and evasion. We have discussed with the Chairman of FIRS and very soon, the team will be set up. We will do everything possible to stop all corrupt people.
“I want everybody to be a part of the fight against corruption. We are all together in this fight. Corruption is what is disturbing this country and like the President, Muhammadu Buhari, said, ‘if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us’”, Magu said.
Magu also said that the EFCC has received complaints about corruption on some Nigerian higher institutions and promised that EFCC in collaboration with relevant agencies will soon beam a searchlight on the higher institutions.
“We have received complaints from Student Union Governments of some higher institutions, complaining of corruption in the institutions. We will soon beam searchlight on the higher institutions. All we want to achieve is to secure the future of our people”, Magu added.
In his presentation on Beneficial Ownership Of Assets:
The Experience of Nigeria in Confronting Tax Evasion, Corruption and Money Laundering, the FIRS Chief Executive said Nigeria, through FIRS, has been able identify and plug some revenue leakages and also position Nigeria for more revenue generation.
“Nigeria is committed to working with its treaty partners and other international agencies to ensure increased access and exchange of taxpayer information required for effective tax administration. At the domestic level, the FIRS shall continue to provide a forum for inter-agency collaboration to tackle abusive tax practices, by implementing initiatives to optimise tax revenues.
“The FIRS is collating for tax purposes information on ownership of economic landed property, in collaboration with States Land Registry (starting with the FCT and Lagos State) and leading Estate Agency Firms”, he said.
Fowler noted that FIRS has signed Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements (ADTAs) with 13 Countries and also signed up to the OECD/EU Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters Convention (MAC) that has over 130 participating countries.
“Nigeria joined Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Tax Information (GF) in 2011 and has successfully gone through the Phases 1 and 2 Peer reviews.
“Nigeria has also established a functional Exchange of information (EOI) unit in 2012 to oversee an effective system of exchange of tax information with Nigeria tax treaty partners. Nigeria Joined the Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) in 2016 and committed to implement the minimum standards.
The country, Fowler said, has commenced process to sign the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) for the automatic exchange of financial account information with other Countries”, Fowler added.
He also noted that FIRS has implemented a framework for tax authorities’ collaboration with other agencies of government to improve access to and exchange of taxpayer information, including information on ownership of assets.
“Inter-agency collaboration with organisations like Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), State Boards of Internal Revenue (SBIR), Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML, has enabled expeditious and confidential access to information on beneficial ownership as and when required for tax purposes”, Fowler added.