Nigeria lost N17.6bn to tax evasion in 2015, a report by the Senate Committee on Public Accounts on the Federation Account for the year 2015, which was approved by the Senate before proceeding on annual recess disclosed.
The unrecovered taxes, the Red Chamber said are made up of Value Added Tax (VAT), Company Income Tax (CIT), Withholding Tax (WHT), Education Tax (EDT) and NITDEF.
It blamed the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for failing to recover the sum from the affected companies.
In response, the FIRS said the tax evasion was due to failure to file annual returns by several companies, which, it said, could not be located due to a change of addresses.
After adopting the recommendation of its Committee on Public Accounts, which considered the audit report, the Senate asked the executive chairman of the agency, Muhammad Nami, to go after the defaulting companies for recovery of the money and remit same into Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) within 90 days.
The FIRS was also directed to sanction its officials involved in alleged overlapping and splitting of contracts between 2014 and 2015 and remit N32.4 million into government coffers within 90 days, with evidence of compliance submitted to the Auditor-General and the Senate Public Accounts Committee.
The Auditor-General in the query on the N17 billion unrecovered taxes said: “The Federal Inland Revenue Service failed to recover the total sum of N17, 690, 341, 565.00 billion from different companies in the year under review.”
“Though the FIRS in its response to the query said it had recovered N2,879,152, 077.76 billion but actual receipted recoveries made by FIRS was N273, 038, 474.74million, leaving a balance of N17, 417, 303, 090.90 billion 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.
“Evidence of compliance should be forwarded to the Senate Public Accounts Committee,” the Senate stressed.
The Senate directed the Chairman of FIRS to recover the money and pay into the federation account, just as it ordered the blacklisting of all companies that failed to file their annual returns.