By Richards Adeniyi
A series of underpayments and outright failure to remit taxes from Value Added Tax (VAT) and With Holding Tax (WHT) by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been uncovered by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
The accumulated deductions is thought to be up to N2 billion that should have accrued to the Federal Government.
Following the discovery, the tax agency has swung into action to determine the exact amount of money that has been under remitted to the federation account between 2013 and 2015.
According to a report by The Bridge News, NIMASA has underpaid the Federal Government VAT and WHT in local and foreign currencies to the tune of over N2 billion
Breakdown of the under payment of the tax in local currency include With-Holding Tax of N1,732,640,167.89 billion and VAT to the tune of N850,583,503.53 million respectively.
The dollar and pound sterling components of the unremitted tax include WHT of $84,458.68, VAT of $5,595,175.23 million; WHT £37,512.47 and VAT to the amount of £37,512.47.
Investigations revealed that FIRS, following routine audit of NIMASA early 2018, discovered the fraud and consequently opened up detailed investigations into the case to determine the level of culpability of the revenue generating agency.
The WHT and VAT realised between 2013 and 2015 were collected on behalf of the federal government by NIMASA but the agency failed to remit the tax into the federation account.
It is suspected that some top NIMASA management staff attempted to employ underhand tactics to have the over N2 billion written off but failed in the process to get the deal done, a development that prompted a wider and thorough investigation of the case by the FIRS audit department, in Abuja.
Spokesmen of NIMASA Mr. Isichei Osamgbi said last Thursday that he was not aware of the case and several text messages sent to NIMASA Director General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside did not yield any response.
Wahab Gbadamosi, head of media, FIRS also failed to respond to emailed questions to him for confirmation.
It would be recalled that worried by the underpayment of taxes and remittances into the federation account by NIMASA, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and 18 other revenue generating agencies, the National Economic Council (NEC) had at its meeting in February accused the key revenue generating agencies of under remittances and consequently employed the services of KPMG, a renowned audit firm to look into the books of the respective agencies.
NEC had at that meeting resolved to “decide on repayment plans for all concerned as well as stepping up oversight function on the relevant agencies to ensure remittance as and at when due”.
Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, at a recent public function, identified the common violations by non-compliant tax payers to include: under-declaration of and non-declaration of income earned including income from government contracts and overseas trading; collection of VAT not duly remitted to FIRS; charging of non-allowable personal expenses to company accounts particularly with reference to overseas school fees and inconsistency between income declared for tax purposes and the value of assets owned.
Under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), the Federal Government gave till the end on March 31, 2018 for every tax defaulter to regularize their tax payment or face prosecution.