Tax Audit Risk Assessment: Identifying Potential Red Flags and Areas of Concern for Nigerian Businesses.


For Nigerian businesses, the risk of a tax audit by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is a reality that must be acknowledged. Conducting a tax audit risk assessment is an essential practice to identify potential red flags and areas of concern that may attract the attention of tax authorities. In this article, we will explore key factors that can raise red flags during a tax audit and provide insights into conducting a tax audit risk assessment to ensure tax compliance for Nigerian businesses.

Potential Red Flags for Tax Audit:

  • Inconsistent or Inaccurate Reporting:

Inconsistencies in financial reporting, discrepancies between financial statements and tax returns, or repeated errors on tax filings can raise concerns during a tax audit.

  • Frequent Amendments to Tax Returns:

Frequent amendments to tax returns or repeated requests for extensions can draw attention and may indicate potential tax issues.

  • Unexplained Fluctuations in Income or Expenses:

Significant and unexplained fluctuations in income or expenses from one period to another may warrant further scrutiny by the tax authorities.

  • High Deductions and Exemptions:

Claiming excessive deductions, exemptions, or allowances without adequate documentation to support them may be viewed suspiciously during a tax audit.

  • Related-Party Transactions:

Large-scale related-party transactions, particularly with entities in low-tax jurisdictions, could raise concerns about transfer pricing compliance.

  • Failure to File or Late Filing:

Non-filing or consistently late filing of tax returns can lead to penalties and may trigger an audit.

  • Discrepancies with Third-Party Information:

Discrepancies between the taxpayer’s reported information and third-party data, such as supplier invoices or customer transactions, may lead to audit inquiries.

Conducting a Tax Audit Risk Assessment:

  • Review Compliance History:

Start by reviewing the company’s tax compliance history, including past tax audits and any issues that were raised. Identify areas that were previously flagged and ensure they have been resolved.

  • Analyze Financial Statements:

Conduct a thorough analysis of the company’s financial statements to identify any inconsistencies or unusual trends that may raise red flags during a tax audit.

  • Verify Tax Return Accuracy:

Verify the accuracy of tax return filings and compare them with financial records to ensure they are consistent and complete.

  • Assess Transfer Pricing Practices:

If the company engages in related-party transactions, assess the transfer pricing practices to ensure compliance with arm’s length principles and transfer pricing regulations.

  • Evaluate Record-Keeping Practices:

Assess the adequacy of the company’s record-keeping practices to ensure that all necessary financial and tax-related documents are well-organized and accessible.

  • Engage External Expertise:

Consider engaging external tax professionals to conduct an independent tax audit risk assessment. External experts can provide an objective evaluation and identify potential areas of concern.

Benefits of Tax Audit Risk Assessment:

  • Proactive Compliance:

Conducting a tax audit risk assessment enables businesses to be proactive in addressing potential tax issues before they escalate.

  • Enhanced Tax Planning:

Identifying areas of concern allows businesses to optimize tax planning strategies and take advantage of legitimate tax incentives.

  • Reduced Tax Audit Disruptions:

A comprehensive tax audit risk assessment minimizes disruptions to business operations during a tax audit by ensuring all records and documentation are in order.

  • Strengthened Relationship with FIRS:

Proactively addressing potential red flags demonstrates a commitment to compliance, fostering a positive relationship with the FIRS.


A tax audit risk assessment is a valuable practice for Nigerian businesses to identify potential red flags and areas of concern that may attract the attention of tax authorities. By reviewing compliance history, analyzing financial statements, verifying tax return accuracy, and engaging external expertise, businesses can proactively address tax issues and optimize tax planning strategies.

Remember, a proactive approach to tax audit risk assessment not only safeguards against potential tax audit risks but also contributes to sustainable growth and financial stability for businesses in Nigeria.

For professional advice on Accountancy, Transfer Pricing, Tax, Assurance, Outsourcing, online accounting support, Company Registration, and CAC matters, please contact Sunmola David & CO (Chartered Accountants & Tax Practitioners) at Lagos, Ogun state Nigeria offices, You can also reach us via WhatsApp at +2348038460036.