By Ndahi Marama, Maiduguri
The Borno State Board of Internal Revenue Service (BO-IRS) has given 30 days, which is to elapse on 24th February 2022, to seven (7) United Nations (UN) humanitarian agencies operating in the state comply with its local tax laws and do the needful or risk confiscation of their properties.
The warning was served on Wednesday by the Executive Chairman of the Board, Muhammad Alkali while briefing Journalists at his office in Maiduguri.
Alkali said, Borno has over 100 International and Local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating across the 27 local government areas, Unfortunately, the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN- OCHA) failed to comply after series of plea and meetings.
He mentioned other non-compliant agencies including; Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“It is worthy to note that the aforementioned Organisations are generally exempted from payment of tax from their operational funds, they are however mandated by the provisions of the Personal Income Tax Act CAP P8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (2004) to remit to the state Government what is known as PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and Withholding Tax (WHT) for their staff, individual and enterprise contractors respectively.
“It is fortunate that other UN agencies and INGOs like International Organization for Migration (IOM) and several others who are equally in the large taxpayer category are already complying with the provisions of the extant Tax Laws.
“Series of concerted efforts and engagement have thus far been deployed by the BO-IRS which culminated into forwarding various correspondences to ensure that the above 7-listed Organisations and Agencies voluntarily comply, but to no avail.
“BO-IRS is not oblivious of the convention exempting UN Agencies filing tax returns on behalf of their staff, individual and enterprise contractors from paying on behalf of their clients’ taxes, but it is worthy to note that UN agencies are enjoined to respect and comply with the local laws of the land or in the states they operate, hence, the reason we are demanding raw Data of their Nigerian staff, individual and enterprise contractors, but all efforts to get these documents proved abortive.
“BO-IRS is left with no option rather than to employ legitimate means to compel them to do so. In fact, we have already taken a step by serving the UN Agencies herein before mentioned notice of seizure of properties which is due to lapse on 24th February 2022.
“BO-IRS acknowledges the Humanitarian works of these organisations, however, payment of Taxes by individuals (both natural and juristic) is a condition precedent for the smooth governance of any organisation and by extension the State Government.
” I want to reiterate that the Service will therefore trigger its enforcement powers by using legitimate means to seize the properties of the agencies involved.” Alkali threatened.