The position of CITN was contained in a communiqué on the outcome of its monthly meeting for the month of May, signed by its Chairman, Mr. Samuel Agbeluyi.
The Ikeja CITN Chairman explained that the meeting was used as an opportunity to encourage professionals, particularly tax practitioners within the state, to pay their taxes to government as at when due; in line with the State Government’s tax drive currently focusing on professionals.
Agbeluyi argued that regular payment of taxes gives the citizens the right to demand accountability and performance from their leaders, admitting that, though it was not the duty of CITN to collect taxes, but remained its responsibility to create necessary awareness about it.
The CITN boss implored members to comply with the registration exercise going on with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), saying the agency recently introduced a registration scheme for business organisations to be registered with them for money laundering monitoring under the supervision of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML).
“Our monthly meetings are used essentially for members’ capacity building. Resource persons are usually invited to take us on any aspect of contemporary topics we consider relevant and important. ‘Opportunities for Tax professionals in the Oil & Gas Sector’ was handled in our January 2013 meeting,” he said.
Issues in Transfer Pricing were the topic in our March 2013 meeting. A senior manager from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was the resource person. The Income Tax (Transfer Pricing) Regulations No. 1, 2012 was focused on,” he said.
The Lagos State government had last month extended to April 12 the payment deadline handed down to tax defaulters in the state as over 400 thousand of them have so far embraced voluntary compliance in order to avoid prosecution.
Governor Babatunde Fashola, who said this at a Stakeholders’ Conference for Professionals, added that since the government wrote the evaders, compliance rate has shot up astronomically.
Rolling out the figures, his Special Adviser on Taxation and Revenue, Mr. Bola Shodipo, said that before “the commencement of the enforcement regime, there were just about 2.7 million out of about eight million gainfully engaged adults in the state database, leaving 5.3 million people out of the tax band. But upon enforcement, the number inched up to 3.1 million from 2.7 million, an additional 400,000 but not from the professionals.”
Breaking this into details, the Executive Chairman of Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS), Babatunde Fowler, lamented that over three million professionals in the state are not paying taxes. ”As of today, we have over 49 per cent of unremitted taxes from the banks, law firms, hospitals, advertising practitioners, telecommunication companies and so on. Out of this, the banking sector is leading with the 30 per cent of the unremitted taxes”, he stated.
Fashola told the gathering that the state is prepared to make the evaders face the full wrath of the law, saying, “those who will not pay, we will meet them in court; we will apply the sanctions to the letter”.
The governor said the only tool needed by those in power to enable them function effectively and deliver on their mandate is revenue particularly from taxes. He said that the state government has been able to increase tax revenue from N600 million monthly within six years to about N17 million, while taxpayers jumped from N500 thousand to three million naira.