More than 100m bank accounts risk closure over new finance bill

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No fewer than 110 million bank accounts could become inaccessible with the passage of the finance Bill 2021 sent to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The bill mandates commercial banks to demand the Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) from anyone who wishes to open an account with them.

It also empowers banks to demand TIN from existing customers if they wish to continue to operate their accounts.

The Leader of the Senate, Yahaya Abdullahi explained that “banks would be required to request a Tax Identification Number before opening bank accounts for individuals, while existing account holders must provide their TIN to continue operating their accounts.”

He also noted that the bill made electronic mails as the only channel that tax authorities would accept as a formal means of correspondence with taxpayers;

He added that the proposed bill prescribes a penalty for failure to deduct tax of at least 10 per cent of the tax not deducted, plus interest at the prevailing monetary policy rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS) showed that as at May 2020, there were about 160 million bank accounts in Nigeria out of which 111.53 million were active.

Should the bill be signed into law, no fewer than 119 million accounts might become inaccessible as Nigeria only has 41 million taxpayers.

At a public presentation and breakdown of the 2022 appropriation bill recently, Muhammad Nami, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) chairman, disclosed that Nigeria had 41 million taxpayers as of 2021.

He also expressed concerns during the presentation that Nigeria has earned less despite the population and number of taxpayers when compared to other African countries.