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Reps pass tax crimes commission bill for second reading

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed for second reading, a bill seeking to establish a Tax Crime Commission to try tax-related offences, which is to be headed by the Inspector General of Police.

Particular emphasis was placed on the supervision and oversight of an effective, equitable, and suitable tax system, the widening of the tax net, and the preservation of taxpayer rights.

According to The PUNCH, the legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Establish the National Inspector-General for Tax Crimes Commission to Address Revenue Leakages Emanating from Non-Payment and Under-Payment of Taxes; Irregularities in the Assessment, Reporting and Remittances of Taxes; to Prevent and Combat Tax-Related Crimes; to Plug All Leakages in the Tax Administration System; to Ensure the Protection of Taxpayers’ Rights.’

Sponsor of the bill, Benjamin Kalu, while leading the debate at the second reading on Wednesday, said, “The amount of revenue available to any government determines the extent to which such government may be able to provide public goods and services. It is a pointer to how far a nation can ensure its growth and development.

“While taxation is 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 which builds confidence amongst the citizens and as well motivates and encourages citizens to pay their taxes.”

The lawmaker noted that while it was one thing to fix the amount of taxes to be paid, it was 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.

He added, “Leakages occur where unscrupulous staff and agents of tax authorities collude with citizens to under-assess the tax-payer thereby resulting in underpayment. Leakages also occur in the form of tax evasion, especially such that is encouraged and condoned by the tax collector and more especially among multinational companies operating within the country.”

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