HURIWA Accuses FIRS Of Witch-Hunt And Shadow Chasing For Illegally Demanding Company’s Income Tax Of Over N70 Million From A Not-For-Profit Organization

The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has carpeted the hierarchy of the federal Inland revenue services for exhibiting tendencies of tyranny in an illiterate manner by illegally asking the not-for-profit civil rights body to pay a whopping sum of over N70 million as COMPANY’S INCOME TAX.

HURIWA says the consistency in our social justice Advocacy campaigns against maladministration is the reason for this latest attempt to silence our INDEPENDENT VOICE.

In a media statement by the National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko made available at the Weekend,  HURIWA said the FIRS is on a vendetta and witch hunting adventure against the organisation for criticising the Federal Inland revenue services in a Punch interview in which the newspaper sought our opinion regarding its findings that the federal tax agency earmarked humongous amount in their 2021 budget as entertainment expenses to be paid for them by taxpayers.

HURIWA stated that to the best of its knowledge,  the Federal Inland revenue Services celebrated crass incompetence and ignorance by seeking such outrageous tax returns from a charitable body that is even by the directives contained in the certificate of incorporation indicating its registration by the Corporate Affairs Commission, the group HURIWA is banned from engaging in business ventures just as the Rights group wondered how the Federal Inland revenue Services arrived at their satanic calculation to now conclude that a NOT-FOR-PROFIT like HURIWA  should pay them a backlog of over N70 million.

“How can the FIRS that has no power of oversight over CSOs be seen demanding for payment of COMPANY’S INCOME TAX from a body that the CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION directed by law not to ever engage in business or any profitable venture? This is insanity taken too far by the FIRS and our legal people will be following up soon on this madness of government rascality.”

“This is an attempt to muzzle free speech because on many occasions, many prominent federal government officers had approached HURIWA’s national coordinator to slow down on our criticisms of the failures of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Because they failed to get us to compromises and be silent, the FIRS think it can use illegal methodology to intimidate, harass and force us into silence. Aluta continua, Victoria asserta.  We will neither be cowed or silenced by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.”

 

HURIWA listed the below as the immediate trigger for the illegal demand by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on HURIWA to pay over N70 million tax as a COMPANY ENGAGED IN PROFITABLE BUSINESS: This was the Punch newspaper ‘s interview titled: “FIRS N1.4bn refreshment budget reckless, insensitive –TI, others published by Punch newspaper on March 15th 2021” . The newspaper reported thus:

“Civil society organisations have condemned the N1.4bn budget for meals and refreshments by the Federal Inland Revenue Service in the 2021 fiscal year.

The groups, including Transparency International and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, accused the tax collecting agency of insensitivity and misplacement of priority.

Executive Director, CISLAC and Head, Transparency International in Nigeria, Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani), expressed shock that such a huge amount could be set aside for frivolities at a time the nation’s economy was in dire straits.

He said, “While the nation struggles hard to finance its budget, a significant proportion of the budget slips through mismanagement and reckless spending that intrinsically dominates public sector activities.

“It is more worrisome that the reckless spending has been normalised with resultant underfunded critical sector that is vital to efficiently revamp the sinking economic development.

“Given this background, the decision of Federal Inland Revenue Service to spend N1.4bn on meals and refreshment in 2021 is another irresponsible financial decision by a revenue institution preying on weak budgetary process and scrutiny, poor financial management system and inadequate legislative oversight activities associated with the public sector.

“It is more worrisome that despite the under-funded critical sector with increasingly cost of governance, FIRS has not devised appropriate tax justice system to ensure social-justice and equity in the utilisation of remittances to ensure citizens benefit maximally, but requesting a whopping sum to be lavished on irrelevant activities.

“We must be wary of reckless financial decisions that manifest in institutionalised mismanagement and revenue deficiency. This must be thoroughly checked by relevant authorities as common Nigerians are currently suffering from questionable mismanagement of public treasury and high cost of governance by successive administrations.”

He also said, “While efficient governance is about ensuring that each amount of public funds is spent judiciously in a way that social welfare of all the citizens is maximized, the current high cost of governance that permeates Nigeria’s public sector impedes socio-economic development and shows negative impact on macro-economic stability, job creation and other socio-economic activities that drive growth and development.”

FIRS now a cesspool of filth and corruption –HURIWA

Speaking in a similar vein, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Writers Association, Emmanuel Onwubiko, described the situation as depressing and utterly unconscionable.

Onwubiko said, “At a time of massive unemployment, mass poverty and high crime rates caused by lack of capacity on the part of the security forces and particularly the Nigeria Police Force that has collapsed due to poor funding, corruption and indiscipline, it is shocking that an agency of the Federal Government can set aside the sum of N1.4bn for them to feed and make merry all year round.

“The Federal Inland Revenue Service has always been a cesspool of filth and massive corruption going by the antecedents of that agency with the immediate past head of that agency and many directors facing criminal prosecution for stealing several billions of Naira from the public treasury, so this revelation of a budget of N1.4bn for meals is a continuation of the heritage of corruption in the agency. This is shameful and must never be permitted.

“There is the need for a clean sweep in that agency because it is clear that corruption is deeply rooted and needs surgical action to eradicate this social menace.”

EFCC, ICPC must initiate probe

The convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, equally condemned the proposal.

He said, “This act of cruelty against the Nigerian people must not be allowed to be swept under the carpet. We cannot allow a few persons in our apex revenue generating agency to get away with this attempt to defraud the nation.

“They must be told in no uncertain terms that they cannot take Nigerians for granted. Staff of this agency are very well paid to do their jobs; it does not make sense for them to swindle the nation using budgetary subheads. We will petition the EFCC and the ICPC to probe the leadership.” The Punch newspaper had reported.

 

HURIWA therefore is accusing the hierarchy of the FIRS of witch hunt because the organisation had hired some charlatans to attack us but it seems the attack did not make much media impacts so the federal tax agency then resorted to the following illegal self help measure by cooking up some calculations that HURIWA which is a registered NOT-FOR -PROFIT ORGANISATION should pay COMPANY’S INCOME TAX as contained in their letter below:

UTAKO MICRO & SMALL TAX OFFICE

37, A.E. EKUKINAM STREET, OPPOSITE ABC TRANSPORT, UTAKO DISTRICT, ABUJA

TEL: 09070327632

utako.msto@firs.gov.ng

www.firs.gov.ng

The Managing Director,

Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA)

Plot 7, Gindiri Street, By Tantalizers,

Off Ubiaja crescent, Garki 2, Abuja

Attention: Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko

REGULARIZATION OF REGISTRATION AND FILING OF RETURNS

The FIRS reviewed the Tax compliance status of your Organisation and it has been found to be Dominant with no returns filed.

The following are for your immediate action

A. REGULARIZATION

There is no evidence of a physical file seen in the Tax Office, rather a TIN 11714079-0001 was discovered as the only evidence of registration in our portal. Find attached a checklist of documents to be submitted to the Tax Office for regularization.

B. NON-FILING OF RETURNS

The position of the law is clear on non-filing of returns.

1. Companies Income Tax (CIT)

You may refer to section 55(1) which states ‘Every company including a company granted exemption from incorporation shall, whether or not a company is liable to pay tax under this  Act for a year of assessment,  with or without notice from the Service, file a self-assessment return with the Service in the prescribed form at least once a year……” also note that Section 55(3) prescribes the amount payable as penalty for late filing.

ii. Value Added Tax (VAT)

Section 15 of the Value Added Tax Act (VATA) explains the duty of a taxable person to render returns, while Section 35 of the same Act which states “A taxable person who fails to submit returns to the Board, is liable to a fine of #5,000 for every month in which the failure continues” prescribes penalty for late filing.

This provision of section 35 is applicable till 2018 year end, because the 2019 Finance Act reviewed the above Section with new applicable rates for the first month of default at #50,000 and #25,000 for every month in which the default continues.

Note that the penalties for Companies Income Tax (CIT) has been computed and amounts to Five Million Six Hundred and Fifty Five Thousand naira (# 5,655,000), whereas the penalty for Value Added Tax (VAT) is Sixty Nine Million Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand naira (#69,280,000). You are advised to pay immediately to avoid further measures to enforce compliance as prescribed in the Tax laws.

In light of the above, you are advised to take steps to regularize your registration and file the returns within 7 days of receipt of this letter.

Garba I.G

Tax Controller.”

HURIWA stated that it is unbelievable that a federal government agency does not know the difference between a business outfit or a company and a civil society organisation that is licenced not to ever go into commercial business just as the group said the Federal Inland revenue services displayed crass ignorance by even addressing the letter to a NON EXISTENT MANAGING DIRECTOR in the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

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