The Fiji Revenue and Customs Service (FRCS) Board has approved a $0.35 million reward for a whistle blower that led to the recovery of $6 million in tax (excluding penalties).
This has taken the overall whistle blower pay out to $0.86 million yielding total tax and penalty collections of $28m since the introduction of the whistle blower policy in 2014.
FRCS Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Visvanath Das has revealed that the taxpayer in question is again a supermarket that has a number of chain stores around the country. He added that given the gravity of the offence committed, FRCS applied maximum penalties as it involved trust funds – the Value Added Tax. The total tax bill, in this instance, was $12million.
“The whistle blower informed FRCS of serious financial statement fraud committed by this supermarket to understate income tax and Value Added Tax (VAT). A systemic tax evasion strategy was executed by this supermarket to defraud the State with the legitimate revenue,” Das said.
The tax audit, which amongst other measures involved carrying out of a raid and independent third party information verification, found that the income statement and balance sheet of the company were manipulated such that taxes were evaded.
“The supermarket, over the years, inflated trade creditors amounts, did not account for certain receipts other than direct supermarket sales, purchased properties in family names using company funds, over claimed zero rated sales, undeclared incomes from other parts of business such as milk bar etc. and engaged in general non-compliance behaviour,” Das added.
Das is yet again giving stern warning to all taxpayers engaged in tax fraud that full brunt of tax laws will be applied which includes prosecution and seeking jail term.
He reiterated that the Fijian Government has significantly reformed the taxation system that provides a very low tax burden and there is no incentive whatsoever to evade or avoid taxes. Tax laws, in recent times, have been modernized to seriously deal with any non-compliance behaviour.
“Let me make it very clear. Don’t even try defrauding, it’s not worth it. Therefore, I would encourage voluntary disclosure right away before it’s too late and you will have to face the full brunt of the law.”.