The FIRS has appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover the sum of N1.8 trillion from accounts of Messrs MultiChoice Nigeria Limited and MultiChoice Africa for allegedly dodging tax payment.
FIRS Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami in a statement disclosed that the steps were taken because Multichoice has refused to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit.
Specifically, the companies have breached all agreements and undertakings with the tax agency, failing to respond to correspondences, lacking data integrity and are not transparent as they continually deny FIRS access to their records.
Particularly, MCN has allegedly avoided giving the FIRS accurate information on the number of its subscribers and income. The companies are involved in the under-remittance of taxes which necessitated a critical review of the tax-compliance level of the company.
The statement added that the group’s performance does not reflect in its tax obligations and compliance level in Nigeria. The level of non-compliance by Multi-Choice Africa, the parent Company of Multi-Choice Nigeria is very alarming. The parent company, which provides services to MCN has never paid Value Added Tax since its inception.
“The issue with Tax collection in Nigeria, especially from foreign-based companies conducting businesses in Nigeria and making massive profits is frustrating and infuriating to FIRS. Regrettably, Companies come into Nigeria just to infringe on our tax laws by indulging in tax evasion. There is no doubt that broadcasting, telecommunications and the cable-satellite industries have changed the face of communication in Nigeria. However, when it comes to tax compliance, some companies are found wanting. They do with impunity in Nigeria what they dare not try in their countries of origin”, said FIRS.
The statement further confirmed that Nigeria contributes 34% of total revenue for the Multi-Choice group. The next to Nigeria from intelligence gathering is Kenya with 11%, and Zambia is in 3rd place with 10%. The rest of Africa where they have presence accounts for 45% of the group’s total revenue.
Information currently at the disposal of FIRS has revealed a tax liability for relevant years of assessment for ₦1,822,923,909,313.94 (One trillion, eight hundred and twenty-two billion, nine hundred and twenty-three million, nine hundred and nine thousand, three hundred and thirteen naira, ninety-four kobo only) and $342,531,206 (Three hundred and forty-two million, five hundred and thirty-one thousand, two hundred and six dollars only).
Under FIRS powers in Section 49 of the Companies Income Tax Act Cap C21 LFN 2004 as amended, Section 41 of the Value Added Tax Act Cap V1 LFN 2004 as amended and Section 31 of the FIRS (Establishment) Act No. 13 of 2007, all bankers to MCA & MCN in Nigeria were therefore appointed as Collecting Agents for the full recovery of the aforesaid tax debt.