FIRS Engages Banks to Recover N1.82tn from MultiChoice
• We are discussing with tax authorities, says company
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has commissioned some banks to recover N1.82 trillion from the accounts of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited (MCN) and MultiChoice Africa (MCA).
Preparatory to the collection of the amount, which is arrears of tax liabilities of the companies, the agency has also ordered that all local bank accounts of the two organisations, owners of pay television, DSTV, should be frozen.
FIRS Executive Chairman, Mr. Muhammad Nami, said yesterday that the decision to appoint the banks as agents and to freeze the accounts were due to the group’s continued refusal to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit.
But in a swift response, MultiChoice Nigeria said it had the media statements made by the FIRS, but had not received any notification from the agency.
“MultiChoice Nigeria respects and is comfortable that it complies with the tax laws of Nigeria.
"We have been and are currently in discussion with FIRS regarding their concerns and believe that we will be able to resolve the matter amicably,” the company added.
However, Nami accused the companies of breaching all agreements and undertakings with the agency and for not responding to correspondences.
Nami, in a statement by the Director, Communications and Liaison Department, FIRS, Mr. Abdullahi Ahmad, said Multichoice, "lacked data integrity and are not transparent as they continually deny FIRS access to their records."
He added that it is important that Nigeria ends all tax frauds that have been going on for too long.
According to him, all companies must be held accountable and made to pay their fair share of taxes, including back duty taxes owed, especially VAT for which they are ordinarily agents of collection.
He accused MultiChoice Nigeria of avoiding to give the FIRS accurate information on the number of its subscribers and income.
He also accused the companies of being involved in the underremittance of taxes, which necessitated a critical review of its tax-compliance level.
The statement added that the group’s performance does not reflect in its tax obligations and compliance level in Nigeria.
Nami said: "The level of non-compliance by MultiChoice Africa (MCA), the parent company of MultiChoice Nigeria (MCN) is very alarming. The parent company, which provides services to MCN, has never paid Value Added Tax (VAT) since its inception.
"The issue with tax collection in Nigeria, especially from foreign-based companies conducting businesses in Nigeria and making massive profit is frustrating and infuriating to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (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.