BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has revealed that Nigeria lost about ₦5.4 trillion between 2007 and 2017 through tax evasion by multinational companies operating in Nigeria.
Executive chairman of the Service, Mr Muhammad Nami stated that “between 2007 and 2017” Nigeria was reported to have lost over $178 billion (about N5.4 trillion at today’s rate) through tax evasion by Multinationals” doing business in the country.
He cited a 2014 report by the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, which stated that “Nigeria accounted for 30.5 per cent of money lost by the continent through illicit financial flows.”
To check this revenue loss, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) he said has created 35 additional Tax Audit Units in the country to stem illicit financial flow out of Nigeria and improve tax compliance rate.
The FIRS chairman disclosed this in Abuja yesterday in his opening remarks at a “Workshop on Effective Audit of Multinational Corporations for Domestic Revenue Mobilisation in Nigeria,”
organised by the Service in junction with the Tax Justice Network, according to a statement that was issued by FIRS spokesman, Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad.
In a bid to stem illicit financial flow out of Nigeria and improve tax compliance rate in the country, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) created 35 additional Tax Audit Units in the country last year.
Although Mr Nami observed that some multinational corporations were “leading in tax compliance in various sectors” he, however, expressed worries that “many rich Multinational Corporations do not pay the right taxes due from them, let alone pay their taxes voluntarily.”
Charging the workshop to come up with “a novel methodology that would be used to uncover illicit financial flows” and “provide an overview of related policy options for enhancing tax revenue collection in general,” Nami also said, “At the FIRS we are paying greater attention to tax audit in general and Transfer Pricing audit in particular in order to improve the level of tax compliance in the country. As a result, in the last one year, we have created more than 35 additional Tax Audit Units and deployed experienced and capable staff to take charge of these offices.”
He further stated that with signing of the 2021 budget of N13.588 trillion on 31st December, 2020 by President Muhammadu Buhari and given the recent decline of oil resources, “which had been the major revenue earner for the country, taxation is expected to continue to shoulder the government’s budget performance the way it did in 2020. This underscores the importance of this workshop, as tax audit of Multinational Corporations is very crucial in Nigeria’s domestic revenue mobilisation.
“For me, this Workshop is an important step towards boosting compliance level; and, I have strong hopes that its outcome will further increase our efforts at driving tax compliance among Multinational Corporations in Nigeria,” he added.”