The Federal Inland Revenue Service says a total of 23,141 defaulters owe N254bn in tax liabilities.
The service also said it recovered over N97.7bn from tax defaulters since it gave the directive to banks.
Babatunde Fowler, the executive chairman of FIRS said these at the 49th Annual Accountant Conference organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria in Abuja.
He said, “As of today, there are a total of 23,141 tax defaulters who are yet to come forward to clear their outstanding liabilities of about N254bn.
“The FIRS in collaboration with the banks has started engaging in compliance measures with regard to the tax defaulters and their accounts.
“Failure to carry out this directive will result in the banks being sanctioned according to Section 31 subsection 1-3 and 32 respectively of the FIRS Act 2007.”
He said failure to comply would be seen as an act of economic crime to the nation adding that the FIRS would be left with no option than to enforce its rights and apply appropriate sanctions.
The sanctions, he noted, would begin with delisting defaulting banks from the FIRS collection list.
Under the tax substitution programme, the FIRS had intensified its efforts to collect taxes from default payers by appointing banks and other financial institutions as collection agents.
The banks as tax collecting agents were directed to make specific deductions from alleged tax defaulters’ accounts and pay such over to the FIRS in full or partial payment of the alleged tax debt.
The legality of the action by the FIRS, however, is being questioned in different forums.
Fowler, in his presentation, defended the stand of the service, stating that he would do whatever he could to boost tax collection.
The chairman said that before the FIRS took such harsh stance, it had undertaken tax amnesty programmes such as the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme without much success.
He said that through the substitution exercise, FIRS increased tax revenue collection through special tax audit, VAIDs, special investigation and the banking turnover initiatives.
Fowler added that so far, 3,976 out of 44,293 non-compliant companies had paid about N97.7bn.
Giving a breakdown of the money recovered, he said that through the banking turnover exercise, the FIRS recovered N88.59bn after reaching agreement with 3,797 out of 42,736 companies.