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Lagos Announces Stiff Punishment Against Tax Evaders

By Ayo Balogun

The Lagos State Government has vowed it will apply all relevant laws to ensure more voluntary tax payment and warned that evaders and defaulters would be prosecuted.

State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, said this Tuesday at a press conference held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, the State capital.

The decision was taken in view of the extreme financial downturn, making it necessary for government to ramp up its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), stressing that the state would spare nothing in enforcing the laws regulating tax payment.

He stated the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode had put in place necessary measures to end the era of tax evasion and avoidance in the state, stressing that defaulters would be aggressively pursued in line with the provisions of the law.

The Commissioner, who disclosed that the Ministry of Justice had established a Rapid Tax Prosecution Unit to aid the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) in its drive to collect taxes, added that the unit would work closely with the Revenue Court which the Chief Judge of Lagos State recently agreed to set up.

He said: “Prosecution and jail term for defaulting tax payers will be a tool that we will be actively using to ensure full compliance. Tax officers, I understand, will be very aggressive in their collection of taxes and the public is hereby advised to cooperate with them because obstruction of these tax officers in their lawful duty can and will lead to prosecution.

“Tax dodgers watch out because the long arm of the law will eventually reach you. All tax payers are also reminded that giving false information is also an offence and can be used in the prosecution of your tax default. If you pay your taxes regularly, you will have no problem,” Kazeem said.

Also speaking at brifing, the State Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Mustapha Akinkunmi, disclosed that the state generated at least N24.5billion from IGR in the month of January 2016, in line with the efforts of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration to reform its tax system and develop a tax paying culture.

Akinkunmi said in the light of the reduction of federal transfers to states including Lagos, the state government was looking inwards to secure sustainable ways of increasing its revenue profile and plugging leakages in the system.

He said majority of the state’s IGR is generated through tax collection, administered by the LIRS.

According to Akinkunmi, the LIRS contributed 79 per cent to the State’s IGR in 2015, which equates to 56 per cent of the State’s total revenue including Federal transfers, adding that the revenue is expected to continue on an upward swing, driven by strong tax collection.

He said, “This trend of strong performance is continuing. In January this year, LIRS has contributed N24.5billion in revenue, attaining 98 per cent budget performance for the month and recording 12 per cent growth from the same period in 2014.”

The Finance Commissioner attributed the improvement in the revenue generation of the state to voluntary tax compliance by tax paying members of the public despite the harsh economic terrain.

Short URL: https://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=30785

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