|“The practice of trade misinvoicing has become normalized in many categories of international trade” according to GFI President Raymond Baker. “It is a major contributor to poverty, inequality, and insecurity in emerging market and developing economies. The social cost attendant to trade misinvoicing undermines sustainable growth in living standards and exacerbates inequities and social divisions, issues which are critical in Nigeria today.”|
Examination of the underlying commodity groups which comprise Nigeria’s global trade show that a large amount of lost revenue ($200 million) was related to import under-invoicing of just five product types. Those products and the related estimated revenue losses include: vehicles ($100 million), iron and steel products ($40 million), electrical machinery ($20 million), ceramics ($20 million), and aluminum products ($20 million). Lost revenue due to mispriced exports ($1.3 billion) may be related to the mineral fuels trade given this category of goods makes up over 90 percent of all exports.
Misinvoicing in various forms
Trade misinvoicing occurs in four ways: under-invoicing of imports or exports, and over-invoicing of imports or exports. In the case of import under-invoicing fewer VAT taxes and customs duties are collected due to the lower valuation of goods.
When import over-invoicing occurs (i.e. when companies pay more than would normally be expected for a product), corporate revenues are lower and therefore less income tax is paid. In export under-invoicing the exporting company collects less revenue than would be anticipated and therefore reports lower income. Thus, it pays less income tax. Corporate royalties are also lower.
Total misinvoicing gaps related to imports can be broken down by under-invoicing ($2.4 billion) and over-invoicing ($1.9 billion). It should be noted that these figures represent the estimated value of the gap between what was reported by Nigeria and its trading partners.
The loss in government revenue is a subset of these amounts and is based on VAT tax rates (5 percent), customs duties (15.2 percent), corporate income taxes (22.4 percent), and royalties (.2 percent) which are then applied to the value gap. Export misinvoicing gaps were a massive $5.9 billion for export under-invoicing and $5.6 billion for export over-invoicing. Lost corporate income taxes and royalties are then applied to export under-invoicing amounts to calculate lost government revenue