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N175m Tax Evasion: Kaduna revenue agency seals-off Access bank

The Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KDIRS) has sealed off three branches of Access Bank in Kaduna metropolis over non-remittance of over N175 million Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE).

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bank branches, located along Bida Road, Ahmadu Bello Way and Isa Kaita Road were sealed-off in the early hours of Wednesday.

Mr Francis Kozah, KDIRS Secretary and Legal Adviser, told newsmen shortly after the exercise that the branches would remain closed till the bank pays all tax liabilities to Kaduna State Government.

“We conducted a tax audit from 2011 to 2016 which revealed that Access Bank has not been remitting PAYE and withholding taxes.
“We are able to establish an unremitting liability of PAYE and withholding taxes of over N175 million within the period.

“KDIRS communicated to Access Bank the findings made a demand for payment and held several meetings with the management of the bank, but the bank refused to pay.

“We are left with no other option but to approach the court for a warrant to restrain the bank, and the court granted the order to seal off all the branches in the state.’’

Kozah said that KDIRS decided to restrain only three branches, adding that they would not be opened until the bank management does the needful.

He advised all corporate entities, including professional bodies operating in the state to come forward and settle all tax-related issues with government or risk being sealed off.
“We are going to be fair to all taxpayers, but we will remain firm and decisive in ensuring that all taxpayers pay what is due to the state government,” he said.

KDIRS Head of Enforcement, Ado Garba, also said that the revenue agency was currently finalising tax audit of some corporate entities, including individuals.

According to him, the agency will go after anyone, banks, companies, professional bodies and other businesses found withholding tax.

“We are open to negotiation with Access Bank, but I assure you that we will only open the branches if the management settles the tax liabilities, including N250,000 cost incurred in sealing the branches.”
On his part, the Executive Chairman, KDRIS, Dr Zaid Abubakar, warned that the agency would seal off any business establishment and corporate organisation that were not willing to pay taxes to the state.

“We will not continue to watch while businesses operating in the state sit on government money by refusing to pay their taxes,” he said.
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