Lawmakers interrogate FIRS over N1.4bn unremitted VAT, Withholding Tax

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For purportedly collecting taxpayers’ money from the Nigerian Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) without sending such to the Federation Account, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts has queried the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over estimated N1.4 billion unremitted Withholding Tax (WHT) and Value Added Tax (VAT).

It was learnt the probe was contained in a 2015 report which the Auditor-General of the Federation (AGF) submitted to the Senate Committee chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide for the attention of the FIRS.

The committee is currently investigating expenditures by the Federal Government agencies in the last five years.

The N700.2 million WHT, which were deducted from 33 government MDAs were not remitted to the FIRS, disclosed the report.

According to the Committee on Public Accounts of the Upper House of the National Assembly (NASS), the development negated the provision of Financial Regulation 234 (III).

The provision stipulates that officers who fail to remit VAT and WHT due on vatable supplies and services shall be sanctioned  under the applicable VAT Act No. 102 of 1993 which may include fined and/or imprisonment.

The report stated: “The Executive Chairman has been requested that the unremitted WHT of N700.2 million be deducted at source from budgetary allocations of the affected MDAs in line with section 24 of FIRS Act of 2007 empowering the Accountant-General of the Federation to make such deduction to the service.”

However, the Auditor-General’s report noted that a written response by FIRS indicated that the total amount of N700.2 million Withholding Tax was deducted by 33 government MDAs, but had not been remitted to the FIRS.

“Efforts are still made by the Service (FIRS) and the Debt Management Office (DMO) to advise the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct at the source from budgetary allocations of the affected MDAs in line with the provisions of section 24 of FIRS Act of 2007.”

The N708.5 million of Value Added Tax were deducted from 31 government MDAs, but were not remitted to FIRS, it stated.

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