Evade tax and go to jail

Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode

The Lagos State government is poised to end the era of tax evasion in the state with the establishment of the Rapid Tax Prosecution Unit (RTPU) to prosecute cases of tax evasion and default.
The RTPU will aid the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) in its drive to collect taxes and work closely with the Revenue Court that is billed to be set up soon.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, who stated this during a press conference held at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa Secretariat, said the state would spare no effort in enforcing the laws regulating tax payment in the state. According to him, the extreme financial downturn has necessitated that government ramps up its internally generated revenue (IGR).
“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,” he said.
The Attorney General also cautioned tax payers to desist from giving false information as it would amount to an offence that could be prosecuted in court.
On the issue of IGR, the State Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Mustapha Akinkunmi, said the state generated at least ₦24.5 billion 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, who said the IGR is mostly generated through tax collection by the LIRS, said government was looking inwards to secure sustainable ways of increasing its revenue profile and plugging leakages in the system in view of dwindling federal allocation to the state.
According to him, 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.
Similarly, the Chairman of LIRS, Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo said that government was already working to bring more members of the informal sector into the tax net, adding that the agency had consistently been at the vanguard of ensuring reforms in the state to improve the ease of doing business in Lagos, adding that such reforms would aid voluntary tax compliance.
He called on Lagosians to continue to pay their taxes when due as that would empower the state government to embark on infrastructural renewal and provision of dividends of democracy to the citizenry.

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