January 11, 2021

How Nigeria lost $178bn to tax evasion by multi-nationals ― FIRS boss


Executive Chairman Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami

Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami

***Moves against illicit financial outflow

By Emma Ujah

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has moved against illicit financial outflow and to improve tax compliance among multi-nationals operating in the country, as its Executive Chairman, Mr Muhammad Nami, said that Nigeria reportedly lost $178 billion to tax evasion by multi-nationals in ten years.

He made the disclosure in his opening remarks at a workshop on Effective Audit of Multinational Corporations for Domestic Revenue Mobilisation in Nigeria, in Abuja, yesterday, according to a statement by the Director of Communications and Liaison Department, Mr Abdullahi Ahmad.

Mr Nami said that “between 2007 and 2017” Nigeria was “reported to have lost over US$178 billion (about N5.4 trillion at today’s rate) through tax evasion by Multinationals” doing business in the country.

He also cited a 2014 report by the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, which stated that “Nigeria accounted for 30.5% of the money lost by the continent through illicit financial flows.”

According to him, 35 additional Tax Audit Units were created across the country, last year, to ensure that companies operating in the country paid appropriate taxes.

Mr Nami expressed worries that “many rich Multinational Corporations do not pay the right taxes due from them, let alone pay their taxes voluntarily.”

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According to him, “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.”

The FIRS boss charged participants at 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,”

Given the recent decline of oil resources, which had been the major revenue earner for the country, Mr. Nami said, “taxation is expected to continue to shoulder the Government’s Budget performance the way it did in 2020.”

He added, “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.”

Vanguard News Nigeria