Nigeria Loses $15bn Dollars To Tax Evasion – Fowler
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, has said that Nigeria loses about $15 billion dollars to tax evasion annually.
Fowler, who gave this figure at a meeting of tax experts in Abuja organized to chart ways to combat offshore tax evasion through exchange of information regime, said that Nigeria would begin the implementation of the first Automatic Exchange of Information standard by 2020.
He said the regime was part of the country’s commitment to improve transparency in tax administration, increase tax revenue collection and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency service delivery.
The tax expert pointed out that there was a major linkage between tax compliance, domestic tax investigation, tax audit, information gathering framework and the international infrastructure for exchange of information among authorities and nations.
He said: “Nigeria had demonstrated her commitment to improve transparency around tax matters, when she signed a declaration and joined the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information (AEOI) on 17th August 2017.
“Furthermore, to facilitate the process of implementing the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information under the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), Nigeria published the AEOI regulations in the Official Gazette of the Federation.
“Finalised and issued CRS guidelines, constructed and finished a dedicated building for the operation of the AEOI and put in place the necessary Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to operationalize the AEOI processes.
“Nigeria has done all these to enable us conduct the first exchange of information under the automatic exchange of information regime by September 2020.
“I encourage those countries in the ECOWAS sub-region who have not committed to implement the AEOI standards to take necessary steps to do so, especially as the automatic exchange of information portend huge benefits for domestic resource mobilization,’’ Fowler explained.
The Executive Chairman of the federal tax agency noted that increase in mobility of income and assets had created a challenge for tax administration and that governments across the world were joining efforts to address such challenges.
Fowler said the challenges offered a global response to the issues of international tax avoidance, tax evasion, illicit financial flows, money laundering and other harmful tax practices based cooperation and use of advanced technologies to tackle the issues.
He expressed the hope that the seminar would broaden participants’ knowledge and develop their skills on how to use AEOI tools to combat tax evasion and improve domestic revenue mobilization in your countries.
The tax expert said also that the training was expected to further enhance the effectiveness of participants who are at advance stage of AEOI implementation in their countries to increase the number and quality of outgoing requests to their treaty partners.
Similarly, he urge those whose countries have not committed to the implementation of the international standard on AEOI to take steps to do so in view of the enormous benefits to be derived from it.
Earlier in his remarks at the forum, the Executive Secretary, West Africa Tax Administration Forum (WATAF), Mr. Babatunde Oladapo, said that the body was committed to contributing to the expansion of the global tax base through exchange of information.
He said that efforts were on the closed gap among nations to ensure effective implementation of exchange of information and that tax administration could only be done successful based on the availability of information.
The WATAF boss commended the OECD Global Forum for leading the drive for the automatic exchange of information that would ensure high network of individuals and multinationals were made to pay their taxes.
Also, the representative of the OECD Global Forum, Ervice Tchonaya, said that forum core mandate was to ensure effective implementation of the international standard for the implementation of the automatic exchange of information among countries.
Tchonaya said that forum instrument of intervention included Per-Review Process, In-Depth Monitory System and Technical Assistance in the area of capacity building in form of trainings and seminars among others.
The seminar with the theme ‘Exchange of Information as a Tool to Combat Offshore Tax Evasion’ was organised by WATAF in partnership with the OECD Global Forum to share experiences among participants and build capacity across borders.