SAN FRANCISCO, January 28, (THEWILL) – The Federal Government on Sunday said it had requested and secured the suspension of two senior Tax Officials in Delta and Benue states for demand and receipt of gratification from tax defaulters based on verified tips from whistle-blowers.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this on Sunday in Abuja while presiding over the meeting of the Whistle-blower Unit in the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit.
Adeosun said the government, through the Ministry had also commenced the process of sanitising the tax administration and revenue collection system of dishonest operatives and had begun investigation into over 200 whistle-blowing tips on tax officials and taxpayers for under-declaration of taxes as well as by tax officials.
According to a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Mr. Oluyinka Akintunde, Adeosun, said the sanitisation of the tax administration and revenue collection system was part of the government’s efforts at enhancing the willingness of the citizens to pay their taxes.
The statement noted that the Minister, in order to deal with the influx of the whistle-blowing tips, had directed the reorganisation of the Whistle-blower Unit to fast-track reports relating to those in the revenue-generating agencies.
“The Ministry is currently analysing over 200 additional whistle-blowing tips, including recordings between tax officials and potential taxpayers in which various practices designed to reduce tax payable were detailed,” the statement read.
“These practices include demands for personal gratification by tax officers, promises to procure backdated Tax Clearance Certificates, and offers to conspire to reduce taxes payable.
“Encouraging our citizens to pay taxes is a matter of law but it is also a matter of trust. Those who work in our tax offices must, therefore, demonstrate the highest level of integrity. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari understands that to reduce our reliance on oil means every citizen must pay their taxes as and when due.
“However, people will not be encouraged to pay if they believe that those involved in the assessment are not transparent or are dishonest. We will continue to sanitise the system and also improve our controls.
“We have cases of procurement of tax Clearance Certificates with no corresponding records or assessments in the tax offices. In such cases, although payments have been made, but there are no underlying assessment. So automatically, we will flag such companies for investigation.
“The data analysis being undertaken within the Federal Ministry of Finance is readily exposing those who have obtained tax clearance certificates that are either forged or are not consistent with their true income levels.”