By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Religious leaders in Lagos rose stoutly against the planned imposition of taxes on donations made to religious bodies, describing it as unconstitutional and counter productive.
The state government has concluded plans to impose taxes on income accruable to religious leaders and organisations, arguing that they all make use infrastructure built with other tax payersâ€™ money and must contribute their own quota.
The leaders came from the three senatorial districts of Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu as well as Ikeja council area of the metropolis.
The Christian and Islamic clerics, who converged at the Governorâ€™s Office on the invitation of the state Internal Revenue Board, condemned the idea, saying it was unacceptable.
Speaking at the forum, Prelate of the Methodist Church of Nigeria, Rev, Ola Makinde, asked the state government to be careful when it comes to religious issues and revenue generation.
Although agreed taxation in Christianity is compulsory and amounted to a sin before God if a Christian kicks against paying his tax to the government, he, however, frowned at the idea of taxing donations to religion leaders, describing it as an idea that will not be possible to work effectively as envisaged by the government.
An Islamic leader, Moshood Fashola, who agreed to the fact that taxation is normal for the government to get more revenue towards fulfilling its obligation to the people, argued that attempt to tax donations to religious leaders would be counter-productive.
Fashola explained further that in Islam, donations to Imams, Alphas and other leaders should be distributed among the poor. He urged the state government to not only drop the idea of taxing donations to religious bodies but use chunk of revenue generated from taxes to religious organisations that have invested in social services like provision of schools and healthcare facilities.
In his response, Governor, Babatunde Fashola said the controversial aspect of the tax system for religion leaders and organisations in the state was federal law.
Giving details of the law to be implemented by the state, Fashola argued that there could not be perfection in law making. His words: â€œWhen the law was drafted, it was done due to the limit of those who put up the law.â€