Seven UN agencies accused of tax evasion in Borno

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Seven United Nations (UN) agencies were charged on Wednesday with tax evasion by the Borno State Internal Revenue Service (BO-IRS).

The seven agencies, according to the state tax administration, are the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)World Food Program (WFP), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

The agency said that although international laws governing the operations of the United Nations system exempt them from paying tax as entities, this does not apply to their workers, in particular the workforce. local work and contractual partners.

Mohammad Alkali, the executive chairman of the Borno Revenue Authority, told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that while other UN bodies “like IOM have complied with applicable laws that require Nigerians working for the UN or foreign organizations to comply with personal income tax laws, the aforementioned seven UN agencies had refused to comply despite all efforts to make them do the necessary.

United Nations agencies, he said, “are mandated by the provision of the Personal Income Tax Laws CAP P8 of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 to remit to the State Government what is known as PAYE and withholding for their staff and individual and corporate contractors respectively.

“Other UN agencies and NGOs that also fall into the large taxpayer category are already complying with the provisions of the applicable laws, as noted above.”

Mr. Alkali said his board had made a “series of concerted efforts and commitments…which culminated in the transmission of various correspondences to ensure that listed organizations and agencies voluntarily comply with the relevant tax laws, but to no avail”.

He said the BO-IRS was aware of the protocols preventing aid agencies from forcing workers to pay taxes, “which is why we asked them to provide us with the raw data of their workers as well as individual contractors. and companies so that we could connect with them directly but to no avail.

“Thus, the BO-IRS has no choice but to employ legitimate means to compel them to do so. And we have already taken action by serving the UN agencies mentioned above with a Notice of Seizure of Assets which is due to expire on February 24, 2022,” he said.

The agency said it would rely on Section 68 of the Harmonized Revenue Act for enforcement using Nigeria Police personnel and its in-house enforcement team.

Mr. Alkali noted that the governor of the state, Babagana Zulum, was aware of the situation.

“It was even the governor who encouraged us to get in touch with UNOCHA through his adviser for INGO affairs, Mairo Mandara, by writing to them, which we did on several occasions, but the seven of them did not comply”.

“They (some OCHA officials) came to our office in June 2021 asking for the details of what we wanted and after that they left and ignored us,” he added.

PREMIUM TIME contacted all seven agencies, but only received a response from UNICEF.

According to Geffery Njoku, the agency’s communications officer, “we are the UN, we don’t pay taxes. We pay at the UN…you should know that.

Additionally, Christina Powell, OCHA’s Public Information Officer, in an email response to PREMIUM TIMES, said, “OCHA has no comment at this time regarding your query.”

However, some UN officials who spoke confidentially to PREMIUM TIMES told the newspaper that the UN was in talks with the government and would respond officially in due course.

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