National Tax Crimes Commission Bill Passes Second Reading

The House of Representatives has passed a bill seeking the establishment of the National Tax Crimes Commission to address revenue leakages in tax management and administration in the country.

When established, the bill sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Benjamin Kalu, and eight other lawmakers, seeks to checkmate irregularities in the assessment, reporting, and remittance of taxes, prevent and tackle all tax-related infractions, while simultaneously protecting the rights of taxpayers.

Leading the debate on the general principles of the bill, member representing Eleme/Oyigbo/Tai Federal Constituency, Rivers State, Felix Nweke, argued that the ability of a government to discharge services to the people is proportional to the availability of resources at its disposal.

He said, “Effective tax administration is a pointer to how far a nation can ensure her growth and development. While taxation is considered the most important means of generating public revenue, it is worthy of note that nations that strive to develop aim at putting in place a fair, just, efficient, and simplified tax administration system that builds confidence amongst the citizens and as well motivates and encourages citizens to pay their taxes.

“While it is one thing to fix the amount of taxes to be paid, it is another for tax collection authorities and assessors to determine the right amount of taxes to be paid in accordance with the provisions of extant tax laws. Leakages occur when unscrupulous staff and agents of tax authorities collude with citizens to under-assess the tax-payer thereby resulting in underpayment.

“Leakages occur in the form of tax evasion, especially such that is encouraged and condoned by the tax collector and more especially, among multinational corporations operating within the country.

“Leakages also occur where there are non-remittances of collected taxes. That is to say, where the government does not get the total amount of taxes collected as a result of revenue diversion by fraudulent staff of tax authorities- the list is endless.”

Nweke also maintained poor tax governance system results in the people and businesses bearing the burden as have been the case in Nigeria in the past few decades.

He argued that to effectively tackle and prevent international tax evasion and other transnational organized crimes and abuses of the nation’s public finance system, there is a need to establish an Independent Tax Crimes and Oversight Commission, which will have the capacity to investigate, audit, prevent and combat tax-related crimes.

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