Tola Akinmutimi, Abuja
Some financial and investment analysts have commended the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for lifting the hold imposed on tax defaulters’ bank accounts, saying the measure will enable the banks to contact the affected customers for regularisation of their tax positions.
The federal tax administration agency had through a letter dated 15 February, 2019 directed all banks to suspend its earlier ordered lien on bank accounts of alleged tax defaulters for a period of 30 days with immediate effect.
It attributed the basis of its latest decision to the need to allow the affected taxpayers with frozen bank accounts to regularize their tax positions with a view to reducing the inconveniences they are going through currently.
Reacting to the Service’s position, analysts at Proshare, a leading financial and business intelligence consulting company, described the move as a welcome development as the suspension would allow the banks to notify their customers of the directive so that they can engage with the FIRS to resolve their outstanding tax issues, thereby achieving a positive outcome for all the parties.
According to the experts, while it is doubtful that the 30-day window would be sufficient to resolve the disputes involving the huge number of affected taxpayers, it is a positive response by the Service to complaints from taxpayers and other stakeholders, and a demonstration of its willingness to engage with them when occasions demand.
They expressed the hope that the federal revenue agency would use the opportunity of the 30-day grace period to modify the process of exercising its statutory power of substitution in a manner that respects taxpayers’ rights and ensures that the sanctity of bank-customer relationship is not jeopardized.
The analysts pointed out that doing this would repair any damage that might have been done, and by so doing enhance the credibility of the Nigerian tax system and restore investors’ confidence in the economy.