OrderPaperToday –
The Senate has given its nod to the establishment of the National Tax Crimes Commission in order to provide the legal framework to ensure that violations of tax laws are sanctioned.

This was as the Upper Legislative Chamber considered a bill on a ‘National Tax Crimes Commission (Establishment) Bill 2022,’ during plenary on Tuesday.

The bill which sought to ensure that the laws related to tax crimes are effective in practice by providing a coherent strategy for enforcing the law was sponsored by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu (APC, Abia North). 

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While leading the debate on the bill, Senator Kalu noted that tax administration is necessary and essential to run any State, adding that the development of any nation depends on the amount of revenue generated by the government for the provision of infrastructural facilities.

According to him, a fair, just, efficient, and simple tax administration system is crucial to induce confidence amongst the citizens to pay their taxes as their national and patriotic obligations. 

“Thus in a bid to address the taxpayers’ grievance and complaints promptly and without any hassle, an effective redressal system is vital. This proposed Bill is a valiant attempt to balance the rights of the taxman with those of the taxpayer. 

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“With an increased globalised economy and technological advancements, we are witnessing transnational organised crime groups and other perpetrators abuse the vulnerabilities in our financial systems.

These frailties can have a significant and devastating impact on national security. 

By establishing the National Tax Crimes Commission, we are enabling the criminal tax investigators, with their unique forensic accounting skill sets, to be well-positioned to combat these national security threats and pursue illicit financial flows that were either derived from tax evasion, international tax schemes, cybercrime, or terrorist financing,” Kalu said. 

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He mentioned that countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Australia, have an Auditing and Investigative Independent Agency such as the TIGTA and FATCA of United States, the House of Commons Treasury Committee (HCTC), and Tax Ombudsman of the United Kingdom and the Inspector General of Taxation (IGT) and Tax Ombudsman of Australia.

This is obtainable even in African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, etc, to this effect.

“And when this commission is created, it will be reporting to the National Assembly and not the Minister of Finance like the FIRS. So, the bill is for the establishment of an external examiner, a scrutiniser for checks and balances in Tax administration in Nigeria. 

Establishment of the National Tax Crimes Commission would put the legal framework in place to ensure that violations of tax laws are included as a criminal offence, and that effective sanctions apply in practice. 

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The bill also seeks to provide the most effective organ in addressing tax crimes, using a wide variety of strategies for encouraging compliance, to effectively respond to the different attitudes of taxpayers to comply with their obligations. 

“It would also complement the Federal Inland Revenue Service in ensuring compliance with payment of tax; 

Develop and implement a national policy for tracking down tax defaulters; develop tax compliance strategies; provide for an efficient and effective mechanism in administering the Nigerian tax system, and to protect taxpayers’ rights by serving as the Tax Ombudsman,” he stated.

The lawmaker also mentioned that the commission would educate the citizenry on tax matters; collaborate with relevant stakeholders to ensure payment of taxes and proper remittance to the Federation Account; provide a transparent platform on all matters relating to tax; provide sustainable finance and revenue for the government, to review and address any complaint by a taxpayer regarding a service matter or a procedural or administrative matter arising from the application of a tax Act. 

The bill was overwhelmingly supported by the lawmakers and was therefore passed for second reading.

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