FIRS Engages Banks to Recover N1.82tn from MultiChoic­e

• We are discussing with tax authoritie­s, says company

- James Emejo in Abuja

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.

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