Hon. Aminu Tambuwal
Onwuka Nzeshi in Abuja
The House of Representatives would soon commence a comprehensive investigation into the activities of commercial banks following lapses in their records of collection on behalf and remittance of taxes on to the federal government.
Chairman, House Committee on Finance, Hon. Abdulmunin Jubrin who disclosed this at the weekend said based on facts and figures from documents available to the committee from its consultants and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), some of the banks have been acting in breach of the rules of engagement.
“Before, it was meant to be an interactive session but now, we have officially opened up a full investigation based on facts and figures from documents available to us from our consultants and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). We have earlier invited FIRS and they have availed us documents that will have far-reaching effects on this exercise.
“Of course the banks have dual roles, first as collecting agents for government, as people pay tax, the banks collect on behalf of FIRS before remitting it to the agency. Secondly, the banks are corporate citizens that have the obligation of paying tax to the government as tax payers.
As part of the bank’s responsibility as tax collectors, the FIRS revealed to us that there has been a couple of challenges. In fact FIRS had instances where they had to blacklist a bank from collecting tax on its behalf because of late remittances,” Jibrin said.
He said that some banks deliberately engaged in delaying the remittance of taxes. This practice, the lawmaker said, was against the guidelines especially when the banks collect the taxes, keep the money and use it for other purposes like trading.
Jibrin said that though, the banks eventually remit the money to the government, the fact that they found it convenient to keep the money beyond the stipulated period and impose some frivolous charges on it to the detriment of the government remains a breach.
According to the lawmaker, the banks declare huge profits every year but whether they are paying their taxes as corporate entities is also another subject of investigation.