National Inspector-General for Tax Crimes Commission Bill

Introduction:

Recently, a Bill for an Act to establish the National Inspector-General for Tax Crimes Commission (the Bill) has scaled the second reading at the Federal House of Representatives. The Bill, which was sponsored by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, seeks to address revenue leakages emanating from non-payment and underpayment of taxes; irregularities in the assessment, reporting, and remittances of taxes; to prevent and combat tax-related crimes; to plug all leakages in the tax administration system; and to ensure the protection of taxpayer’s rights.

Provisions in the Bill:

The Bill comprises VII Parts, 35 Sections, and 1 Schedule. Part I of the Bill establishes the Commission alongside its Governing Board and provides for the tenure of office, cessation of office, and allowances of members of the Governing Board. The Governing Board would consist of a duly qualified chairman, 2 representatives not below the rank of director from the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, and one representative each from 5 other select Ministries including the FIRS. Members of the Governing Board would be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate, while the Vice Chairman and Secretary would be appointed by members from their midst. Membership is for a 4-year period only and may be terminated before effluxion of the 4 years by reason of disqualification, insanity, etc.

Part II of the Bill enumerates the powers and functions of the Commission, which include, among others, complementing the Federal Inland Revenue Service (the FIRS) in ensuring compliance with payment of tax, implementing policies for tracking down tax defaulters, developing tax compliance strategies, and educating the citizenry on tax matters.

Part III of the Bill creates a structure for the Commission such that the Commission is divided into 4 departments (Investigation and Monitoring, Research, Administration, and Operations) each department to be headed by a Deputy Inspector General of Tax.

Part IV of the Bill provides for membership and zonal operations of the Commission. The Commission shall consist of voluntary and regular members to be recruited by the Governing Board upon meeting the requirements of the Commission. The Governing Board shall be divided into zones, each zone headed by an Assistant Inspector General of Tax. Every state of the federation including the FCT shall have a State Inspector of Tax responsible for carrying out the functions of the Commission subject to the direction of the Assistant Inspector General of Tax.

Part V of the Bill makes provision for Staff of the Commission including the Inspector General of Tax (IGT) who shall be appointed by the President subject to the conformation of the Senate and who shall be the Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the Commission. The IDP Tax shall hold office for 5 years and may be reappointed for another 5 years. Powers of the IGT include daily administration of the Commission, keeping the books and records of proceedings of the Governing Board, etc.

Part VI of the Bill provides for the establishment and maintenance of a Fund into which budgetary allocations from the Federal Government, monies lent or granted to the commission by the Government, grants made to the Commission by local 0r international organizations, donations/gifts/loans to the Commission, etc. may be paid into. The Fund shall be managed in accordance with the rules made by the IGT. Proceeds from the Funds shall be applied to the running and administration of the commission.

Part VII is the miscellaneous provision containing sections on penalties for staff of the Commission, pre-action notice, Limitation of suits against the Commission, Service of documents, etc. 

Conclusion:

The Commission shares similar functions with the FIRS and its establishment would only result in a duplication of functions and needless rivalry between the Commission and the FIRS to the detriment of taxpayers. A simple amendment of extant tax laws to fill existing gaps would solve the problem that this Bill seeks to resolve without the need to establish an entire Commission and all the additional costs that come with it.

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