The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has through its letter dated 15 February 2019 directed banks to suspend its lien on bank accounts of alleged tax defaulters for a period of 30 days with immediate effect.
The directive became necessary to allow the affected large number of taxpayers with frozen bank accounts to regularize their tax positions and alleviate the inconveniences they are going through.
This is a welcome development as the suspension should allow the banks to notify their customers of the directive so that they can engage with the FIRS to resolve their outstanding tax issues, and enable a positive outcome for all the parties. While it is doubtful that the 30-day window would be sufficient to resolve the disputes involving the acknowledged large number of affected taxpayers, it is a positive response by the FIRS to complaints from taxpayers and other stakeholders, and a demonstration of its willingness to engage with them when occasions demand.
It is expected that the FIRS will use the opportunity of the break to refine 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. Doing this will repair any damage that might have been done, and thereby revamp the credibility of the Nigerian tax system and restore investors’ confidence in the economy.
Please click here to read our newsletter on the FIRS’ appointment of banks as collecting agents for recovery of alleged tax liabilities.
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