From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
House of Representatives, yesterday, passed for second reading, a bill seeking to establish a Tax Crime Commission to try tax related offences.
Sponsor of the bill, Benjamin Kalu, in his lead debate said the proposed legislation aims at addressing revenue leakages resulting from non-payment and under-payment of taxes.
Kalu said the bill, if passed into law, would also address irregularities in the assessment, reporting and remittances of taxes.
It would also prevent and combat tax-related crimes, ensure the protection of tax payers’ rights among others, he said.
The lawmaker said the idea was to put in place a system for the independent oversight of revenue collection authorities in Nigeria with the aim of promoting the economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the administration of revenue laws, increasing revenue generation.
Said Kalu: “To effectively combat as well prevent international tax evasion and other transnational organised crimes and abuses of the nation’s financial system, there is need to establish a Tax Crimes Commission which will have adequate capacity to investigate, prevent and combat tax related crimes. This will definitely contribute to our national security through prevention of tax related crimes, prevention of illicit financial flow derived from tax evasion, international tax schemes, cybercrime, etc.
“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Colleagues, may I draw your attention to a report of Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, compiled by an AU panel led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, said Africa loses an estimated $60 billion annually through such transfers. The report which was presented in Addis Ababa in 2015 stirred massive concerns in Nigeria which was said to account for over $40.9 billion or 68 per cent of the total figure.
“The Tax Crimes Commission will not function as a law court, it will not duplicate the functions of the Tax Appeal Tribunals established in accordance with section 59(1) of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act, 2007 and it will not have quasi-judicial functions.
“The Commission shall primarily focus on the oversight of the tax administration system, ensuring that the tax authorities discharge their duties within the laws, protecting, promoting and guaranteeing tax payers’ rights, where necessary ensuring the prosecution of corrupt and fraudulent tax officials, ensuring the complete remittances of all public revenues, ensuring the increase of public revenue not through increased taxation but through friendly and appropriate taxation, among other things.”
Kalu said the commission would ultimately ensure that the five basic qualities of a good tax system, which include fairness, adequacy, simplicity, transparency and administrative ease are entrenched in the Nigerian tax system.