by Lekan Olanrewaju
The Lagos State Government on Tuesday announced it will begin to clamp down on tax offenders from the 1st of April.
At a news conference in Ikeja, the Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Taxation, Bola Shodipo, announced that the government would begin to prosecute tax evaders and defaulters.
“Out of about 20 million people living in Lagos State, there are about eight million people gainfully employed or engaged in productive activities and should pay taxes,” he said. “However, only 2.7 million people actually pay taxes. This means that about 5.3 million people do not pay taxes.
This is not only unfair to those who pay taxes voluntarily. It also portrays the 5.3 million tax evaders as enemies of the state. No responsible government will fold its hands and allow this to continue. Now we are on the enforcement level and we will prosecute where applicable. We will not listen to any plea for waivers or concessions on penalties.”
It was also announced that targeted internally generated revenue (IGR) is N20 billion per month as against the current N16 billion. The shortfall of N4 billion was blamed on tax evasion.
The Senior Special Assistant to the state governor on Justice, Lanre Adesola, also spoke, saying that the state had obtained permission from the federal government to prosecute tax offenders in the state under the Personal Income Tax Act.
“Last week, the Attorney General of the Federation gave the Lagos State Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye, go-ahead to prosecute tax offenders,” he said. “The implication of this is that we now have the full authority to prosecute culprits, either under the Revenue Administration Law of the state or personal income tax law.”