We’re Not Owing You Any Debt-Multichoice to FIRS

Ade-Ade Bosun, Abuja.

Nigeria’s cable television service provide, Multichoice, has debunked claims by the federal internal revenue services, FIRS, that it is owing the country a backlog of N1.8trn tax debt. The company made the claim on Thursday while insisting it is not ready to engage federal officials in any media exchange as there are better and more peaceful means of resolving the impasse.
Multichoice also revealed that apart from media reports, it has not received any official notification from the FIRS over the said amount or its plan to appoint banks to recover same.
“We have read the media reports and the statements made by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS. 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,” it said.
A Multichoice source who opted to speak on condition of anonymity stated however, that FIRS may have acted in error, due possibly to computation glitches. Otherwise, it does not make any sense for a conglomerate like Multichoice to could owe such an amount or indeed for anyone to be owing FIRS that much in accumulated tax backlog.
“FIRS is government and you know that no serious business concern would want to engage government in a fight. We do not even want to engage it in any media brawl but what we know is that someone somewhere in FIRS has made an embarrassing error which we would amicably resolve with the agency.
I mean, if you look at the amount it is quoting to be owed and what Multichoice pays as tax, you will find that even if we have not paid anything for several years, we still would not owe up to that.
By the way, is tax not derived from profit? If Multichoice owes as much as that, how much is the gain we make on annual basis? So if you look at it critically, it does not add up. Assuming, without conceding to the fact, that Multichoice owes that outrageous amount, there are very clean processes of drawing debt than the manner this one is playing out.
Unless there are other issues some people want to get at, through this, the N1.8trn tax thing doesn’t add up at all. But like I have told you, Multichoice will resolve the issue amicably with FIRS” he added.
FIRS announced recently that Multichoice is owing the federal government a tax backlog amounting to N1.8trn. In addition to its intention to freeze the multi national conglomerate’s account, the tax agency also announced further plans to set up a consortium of banks to help recover the debt.
According to FIRS executive director, Muhammad Nami,
“It was discovered that the companies persistently breached all agreements and undertakings with the Service. They would not promptly respond to correspondences, they lack data integrity and are not transparent as they continually deny FIRS access to their records.
Particularly, MCN has avoided giving the FIRS accurate information on the number of its subscribers and income.
The companies are involved in the under-remittance of taxes which necessitated a critical review of the tax-compliance level of the company.”

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