LCCI Tackles FIRS over Freezing of Alleged Tax Defaulters’ Bank Accounts

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Jonathan Eze
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has expressed concern over reports by many corporate bodies bordering on freezing of their accounts and alleged debiting of such accounts by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on account of tax defaults.

According to LCCI, tax administration should be in consonance with the basic tenets of the rule of law and the fundamental principles of a good tax system.
This, the chamber further stated should be consistent with the principles of equity, fairness, legality, accountability and due process.

The LCCI which disclosed this after its meeting noted that taxpayers should be given ample opportunity to defend their positions on tax matters before a lien is placed on their bank accounts, adding that there are instances where company accounts were frozen in error because there was no proper engagement, documentation or communication with the tax payers.

The statement added: “The disruptions to businesses resulting from a sudden freezing of bank accounts for reasons of alleged default in tax payment has caused irreparable reputational damage to many businesses.

“In the light of the foregoing, LCCI urges the FIRS and the banks to exercise utmost restraint in the adoption of this tax revenue recovery strategy because of the grave implications for investors, financial inclusion and the economy as a whole. The damage to the economy may be much more than the contemplated revenue.

“Revenue generation is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. The ultimate objective is to ensure equity, improve welfare of citizens, create jobs and promote the advancement of the economy.

“The activities of agencies of government should be in tandem with the Ease of Doing Business agenda of government and the promotion of the ideals of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).”
On the general elections, the LCCI Council reiterated the imperative of a peaceful conduct of the forthcoming elections. It stressed the need for the elections to be free, fair and credible.

It underscored the critical importance of the neutrality of INEC, the security agencies and the Judiciary in the electoral process stressing that a peaceful environment is crucial for political stability, economic progress, social stability and societal cohesion.

“No significant investment will take place in an environment that is politically and socially unstable.”
It commended the payment of the first tranche of outstanding petroleum subsidy claims to the tune of N237 billion in promissory notes. It also commended the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria in the granting of partial interest waivers for the marketers on their indebtedness to the banks.

The LCCI, however, urged the government to effect the payment of the balance of the subsidy claims without delay. The meeting also proposed the expeditious passage and assent of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the deregulation of the sector to put an end to the recurring subsidy problem.