The Federal Inland Revenue Service confirmed that companies with untraceable addresses evaded taxes to the tune of N17.69bn, according to a report by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation for 2015.
The Senate has consequently ordered the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami, to go after the defaulters, recover and remit the revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund within 90 days.
The Senate issued the order based on the recommendations by the Committee on Public Accounts in its report on the audit queries issued by the auditor-general for the year under review.
Following the consideration and adoption of the committee’s report, the Senate also directed the FIRS to sanction its officials involved in an alleged overlapping and splitting of contracts between 2014 and 2015.
The service is to recover and remit a total sum of N32.45m into government coffers within 90 days, with evidence of compliance submitted to the auditor-general and the committee.
The OAuGF had issued various queries against the FIRS and 104 other ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government in the 2015 report, which the Senate sustained.
In the query against the FIRS, the auditor-general said, “The Federal Inland Revenue Service failed to recover the total sum of N17,690,341,565 from different companies in the year under review.
“The unrecovered taxes are made up of Value Added Tax, Company Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Education Tax and NITDEF.
“Though the FIRS in its response to the query said it had recovered N2,879,152, 077.76 but actual receipted recoveries made by FIRS was N273, 038,474.74, leaving a balance of N17,417,303,090.90 to be recovered.
“Several companies were also discovered to have defaulted in filing their annual returns, many of which FIRS said could not be located due to change of addresses.”
Adopting the report by its committee on the queries, the Senate directed Chairman of FIRS to recover the taxes and remit same to the CRF, while asking that the companies concerned be blacklisted.
“Evidence of compliance should be forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee,” the parliament said.
The Senate also condemned the alleged contract overlapping and splitting by some officers of the FIRS, calling for their identification and punishment.
A query reads, “A contract for the sum of N32,667,600 awarded by FIRS was split and distributed to four companies whose submissions were earlier rejected, mainly to accommodate the approval ceiling of the chairman, contrary to Financial Regulations 2921.
“The audit also revealed that a total of N32,449,743,61 contracts under recurrent expenditure were awarded by the agency in the 2014 financial year and paid for in the month of January, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulation 414(b).”
The Senate, therefore, directed the FIRS to pay the money back into government coffers and submit evidence of compliance to the OAuGF and the committee.
Meanwhile, the FIRS says it has appealed a recent judgment of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt Rivers State stripping it of the power to collect VAT.