By Franklin Alli
The Executive Chairman Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo, revealed yesterday that only five million people are tax compliant in the state.
This is even as Theophilus Emuwa, a tax expert has estimated that out of the five million in the tax net, 90 percent of the tax payers are from the Organised Private Sector, OPS, and public servants while 10 percent are from informal sector in the state.
Addressing stakeholders during a meeting with tradesmen and artisans in the State,Ogunsanwo said:” Of the nine million projected taxable person living in the State, only a little above five million of them are tax compliant.”
Ogunsanwo bemoaned the attitude of some residents to payment of taxes and urged tradesmen and artisans operating in the State to pay an annual tax of N5, 000 each (under the presumptive tax regime), enlightening those present on the renewed and continuous efforts embarked upon to make easy and convenient payment of these taxes.
He said: “In its continuous drive to increase the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and make tax assessment and payment voluntary, convenient, and unambiguous for tax payers, LIRS has opened up new payment platforms, compressed the tax forms and printed them in Yoruba and Pidgin, acquired a hotline that taxpayers can call for enquiries in any of the 3 major languages and review the cost and process of replacement of the cards amongst other things.”
According to Ogunsanwo, with the shortfall in allocation from the federation accounts, one of the ways of shoring up revenue for a cosmopolitan state like Lagos is to create the enabling and business- friendly environment for the informal sector and thereafter ensure that all taxes due are collected in an effective and efficient manner.
He reiterated that, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, has been able to carry out all his campaign promises to Lagosians through execution of projects which have been made possible by the taxes that are being paid by individuals and groups.
Explaining why taxpayers in Lagos State must file a return of their earnings, the Lagos chief tax man, also quoted copiously from Section 24 of the Personal Income Tax Act urging residents to pay their taxes as and when due.
He said, “The Personal Income Tax Act which is a federal law is what we implement for the collection of taxes.”
This Act also states in Section 41 that you must file your returns within the first 90 days of the commencement of any year. Anyone that does not do so will be running afoul of the law and may be prosecuted and even jailed on conviction. This explains why LIRS has launched various campaigns, using all platforms to sensitize artisans, traders and market men/women, making them understand that paying taxes is not only their civic responsibility, but it is also the law. “
Responding on behalf of the artisans, President of LASCOTA, Alhaji Nurudeen Buhari commended the tax agency and its officials for their concerted efforts in interacting with members of the association. He solicited the government’s support in encouraging tradesmen and artisans to join the relevant associations for proper monitoring and accountability and assured the government of LASCOTA’s commitment in helping the present administration meet its set goals.
Vanguard learned that there are 12 taxes and levies collectable by the Lagos State Government, namely: “Personal Income Tax , Withholding Tax( Individuals only), Capital Gains Tax (Individuals only) and Stamp Duties on instruments executed by Individuals. Others include Pools Betting and Lotteries, gaming and casino taxes, Road Taxes, Business premises registration fee; Development Levy (Individuals only), Naming of Streets registration in the State Capital, Right of Occupancy fees on lands owned by the State Government in urban areas of the State.. The residents also pay Market taxes and levies where the State Finance is involved and Hotel Occupancy and Restaurant Consumption Tax.’