3.5 Million Lagosians Are Tax Evaders – Lagos State Government
The Lagos State Government on Sunday said about 3.5 million of its residents were currently guilty of tax evasion, which it said, absolutely violated the country’s 1999 Constitution and other extant legal instruments.
The government added that it determined to capture the 3.5 million tax evaders in the state’s tax net while lamenting the continual decline in allocations from the federal government and dwindling oil price in the international market.
The Chairman of the Lagos Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo, disclosed this in a statement issued after a meeting with the agency’s staff, stressing the need to capture more people in the state’s tax net so that its internally generated revenue (IGR) could be used to cushion the effect of the shortfall.
He explained that the expanded tax net would enable the government continue to provide corresponding development projects in the state, thereby advocating willful compliance by Lagosians with tax remittances as against tax audit presently in practice.
He described the tax audit system as avoidable, unnecessary and waste of human resources that could be channelled into other areas of growth if tax payers embraced remitting taxes without being compelled.
He pointed out that the state “has eight million taxable Lagosians. But only 4.5 million are so far captured in the tax net of the state government, which means about 3.5 million Lagosians are still tax evaders.
“We will ensure that those who are yet to be captured in the state’s tax net will be brought in. I can assure you that within the next six months the IGR of the state will have increased proportionately,” Ogunsanwo said.
He said the leadership of LIRS would henceforth leverage on the use of technology to ease the process of revenue collection and also reduce if not eliminate some perceived bottlenecks that could be resolved with the use of technology.
He also urged officials of the revenue agency to always make civility their watchword in the daily discharge of their responsibilities, maintaining that the ethical demand of tax collection “is premised on broadening tax net without causing unnecessary hardship to the tax payers.
“The job of a revenue collector is humanitarian in nature and that tax payers should be treated as customers, while the tax payers on their parts should courteously accord the revenue collectors the due honour of government officials.”
However, Ogunsanwo warned against situations whereby revenue collectors were being maltreated, thereby appealing for maximum cooperation and understanding from members of the public in ensuring prompt remittance of their taxes to the state government.