MTN opens up on $2bn indebtedness to FG

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MTN Nigeria has clarified claims that it is indebted to the federal government in respect of outstanding taxes.

It would be recalled that Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, had said MTN Nigeria is owing to the federal government.

Ahmed said MTN had undertaken a payment plan with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to remit $2 billion tax demand.

In 2018, Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, asked MTN Nigeria to pay a total sum of $2 billion in tax arrears which covered import duties, value-added tax (VAT), and withholding taxes on foreign imports/payments.

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Responding to the claims in a statement signed by Uto Ukpanah, MTN Nigeria company secretary, the telecom giant said on January 8, 2021, the office of the Attorney-General of the federation (OAGF) officially transferred the matter of its alleged indebtedness to the FIRS and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) for resolution.

“As with previous requests of a similar nature, MTN Nigeria has been happy to cooperate with the authorities, providing evidence to demonstrate full compliance with all extant tax and regulatory obligations and discussions are ongoing in this regard,” the statement reads

“As recently as last year, the tax authorities commended MTN Nigeria for its prompt payment of dues. In addition, when asked earlier this year, the company agreed to make advance tax payments ahead of established deadlines to support the Government’s revenue drive.

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“This was also the case in 2020 when in response to FIRS appeal to support Government MTN Nigeria made an early payment of its 2019 Companies Income Tax (CIT) of N46.9 billion.

“The Company did the same this year, between March 2021 and June 2021; making early payments of N95.5 billion for the 2020 CIT, which was due on 30 June 2021.”