By OMOH GABRIEL, OLASUNKANMI AKONI &MONSUR OLOWOOPEJO
LAGOS — LAGOS State Government yesterday said it would commence the prosecution of tax defaulters in the state.
Disclosing this at a joint briefing by the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Mr. Ade Ipeye, Special Adviser to the Governor on Taxation, Mr. Abimbola Shodipo and the state Executive Chairman Inland Revenue service, Mr. Tunde Fowler said that of the estimated eight million residents in Lagos, statistics shows that only three million pay their taxes. He said that about five million residents do not pay thus leaving the tax burden on the three million who pay.
According to the state Commissioner for Justice, machinery has been put in motion to ensure criminal prosecution of these tax defaulters in the state.
He said that some 300, 000 were found in the last three years through the traffic offenders’ demand for tax clearance not to have paid any tax.
He said that some of these tax evaders are being investigated and that criminal charges will soon be instituted against them. Some, he said, have been invited to answer for discussion on their outstanding tax liability.
He said that most of the defaulters are professionals who have the means to pay their taxes but failed to do so because they feel they have no need of government.
Officials of the state government said that a formal notice have been served on residents with tax liability with a caution for them to pay up what they are owing.
They said that the state was not enacting any new law but was going to enforce a federal law which empowers each arm of government in the country to collect stipulated taxes.
According to the state government, in 1999 only 252,000 Lagos residents were paying tax, but this figure of taxpaying residents rose to 728,000 in 2005.
From a figure of 728, 000 in 2005, the number of taxpaying residents grew to 2, 700,000 in 2010 and increased by 300, 000 in 2011.
They said that as at 2012 the figure of taxpaying residents stood at three million.
Officials of the state government said that as at 2010 about 254 companies were owing the state a tax liability of about five billion naira.