Key professionals in the country’s tax industry have disclosed that the country loses about N100 billion annually to tax related fraud.
The experts, who made the disclosure at a conference organised by the country’s leading anti-corruption group, at the weekend, said, this is not a good development for a country struggling to meet its domestic financial needs.
Speaking at the 25th Anti-corruption Situation Room organised by HEDA Resource Centre held in Lagos in commemoration of the June 12, 1993, professionals from different fields said, tax manipulation and evasion by individuals and corporate organisations remain one of the most devastating sources of corruption in the country.
In his opening remark, chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, said corruption remains a teething problem in Nigeria with grave consequences on political stability, poverty, lack of jobs, growing wave of violence and extremism, urging Nigerians to work in unity to tackle corruption headlong.
“Corruption cannot be fought effectively unless Nigeria deals with tax fraud. Many individuals and corporate organisations evade or manipulate tax. They do this in collaboration with professionals like accountants and lawyers. Tax remains the only steady source of income. Unless there is a transparent tax regime, more than N100billion will be lost by Nigerians every year to tax related fraud,” participants stated this in a communique issued at the end of the seminar.
They identified corruption patterns to include illicit money transfer, bribery, electoral malpractices, sharp practices by professionals, increasing number of cyber criminals who were arrested everyday with deep concern for commensurate diligence prosecution of the suspects
The participants said corruption remains one of the major obstacles blocking the uplifting of Nigeria to her required status as a great, dignified and prosperous country.
In there recommendations, they urged the tiers of government to enforce an effective tax system, taxation being the only sustainable source of revenue for the government, regretting that, many actors in the Information Technology(IT) sector, multinational companies and many individuals evade tax in the country, hence, making tax fraud a big corruption scourge.
The participants said, to fight corruption successfully in Nigeria, professionals; lawyers, engineers, accountants, auditors, journalists, builders, medical practitioners should discharge their obligations with the highest sense of transparency and accountability while Nigeria should strengthen law enforcement against tax evasion to ensure control and punishment for culprits in private and public sectors, including actors in digital economy.
Resource persons at the conference included; Dr Adebukola Adebayo, Chairman, Joint Association of Persons with Disabilities, (JONAPWD), HEDA Resource Centre, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, (PACAC), Prof Isah Sadiq Raddah, Barrister Muhuyi Magaji Chairman, Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi among others. The Chairman of the conference was Prof Sadiq Raddah while key note address was delivered by Mr Femi Falana, SAN.
Some of the participating groups include but not limited to; representatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, (OSIWA), Society for West Africa Internal Auditors Practitioners of Taxation of Nigeria, (CITN), Lagos Chambers of Commerce, Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management, (CILRN), Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, (CIS), Justice Development and Peace Commission, (JPDC) of the Catholic Church, Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), CACOL among others.