EXCLUSIVE: Fowler In Trouble As Presidency Queries Him Over Poor Tax Returns

The Presidency has given the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Dr. Babatunde Fowler until Monday, August 19, 2019 to explain the ‘significant variances’ in tax collections in the country since 2015.

In a letter to Fowler signed by Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, dated August 8, 2019, the Presidency voiced its concern that the FIRS has since 2015 to 2017, been unable to match between what was budgeted and collected between 2012 to 2014.


“We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018,” Kyari’s letter read.

He also stated that, “Furthermore we observed that actual collections for the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reason for the poor collections.

“You are kindly invited to respond by 19 August 2019.”

THE WHISTLER learnt that since the query from the Presidency, Fowler has been working round the clock to get the FIRS deliver on the report by Monday, while also looking for safe landing when the report is submitted on Monday.


“It has been a crazy period since the query from the Presidency was received by the chairman. He has every principal officer up and running to get a comprehensive report ready for Monday, August 19,” a source at the FIRS told this newspaper.

Also, a Presidency source hinted that Fowler has been trying to see how to mitigate the outcome of the report submission incase the Presidency does not agree with the contents.

The Service in the 2012 financial year closed on a high, with N5.007 trillion as total revenue collection from taxes, including Petroleum Profit Tax, PPT, the highest cumulative tax collected in the history of the FIRS.

The agency realised about N4.628 trillion in 2011.

Since 2000, data available on the FIRS website shows that President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government has witnessed tax revenue shortfalls since inception in 2015.


In 2015, the agency set N4.5 trillion and made about N3.7 trillion and has been experiencing a shortfall of N1 to N2 trillion every year.

Before 2015, the tax agency surpassed its revenue targets except in 2006 where it made a projection of N3.05 trillion and made N1.86 trillion for the year.

Fowler was appointed as acting chairman of the agency by President Muhammadu Buhari on August 20, 2015 to replace Samuel Odugbesan, a former coordinating director at the agency.

He was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, December 9, 2015.

Prior to that, Fowler was the executive chairman of the Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue from 2005 to 2014.


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