The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has called the public of its intention to commence the prosecution of tax evaders and offenders in Lagos State beginning from April 1, 2016.
Under the Personal Income Tax Act, a taxable person is statutorily required to file a return of income for the preceding year within 90days from the commencement of every year of assessment (March 31st is the deadline), whilst any employer of labour is required to file all emoluments paid to its employees for the preceding year, not later than 31st of January each year. Therefore any taxable person or corporate organisation who fails to file their tax returns with LIRS by the stipulated date is in breach of the provisions of the law, which is a criminal offence that is punishable under the tax laws.
The LIRS, having put all the necessary machineries in place to ensure the enforcement of the tax laws with effect from April 1, 2016 has warned all erring taxpayers to comply; reiterating that the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on taxable persons who fail to file requisite returns as provided by the law.
While many taxpayers have complied willingly by filing their returns in the last months, It is disheartening to note that in spite of all efforts by the LIRS, a large fraction of eligible taxpayers are still not complying, thereby failing to contribute to the common purse for the common good of all. In the wake of little or no proceeds from the federation account, the focus of the present administration in renewing infrastructure and general development of the State cannot be achieved by the attitude of those who deliberately refuse to discharge their civic responsibility to the State.
Without revenue, all of those things that facilitate our progress as a civilized community will not materialize, if there are no infrastructural developments like roads to get to business sites businesses cannot thrive, if we do not have all the services that government is compelled to offer e.g. security, education, healthcare, and law and order as it is being proffered by the court then we cannot make progress collectively.
LIRS has in the last three months embarked on massive advocacy and enlightenment programmes, taking people through a process of education on the laws bordering on tax administration and the need and benefits of paying their taxes as at when due.
We have gone further to develop various initiatives to ease the methodology of paying taxes in Lagos, starting with the simplification of our tax payment processes, through the compression of the ‘Tax Form A’ from 6pages to 2 pages, introduction of new payment platforms, e-submission of annual returns, creation of the LIRS hotline (0700CALLLIRS) and help desks in all tax stations, relaxation of requirements for replacement of lost e-TCC among others, all of which are focused on building convenience into the payment of taxes and subsequently promoting voluntary compliance.
We are now going to the next phase, which is enforcement and prosecution, which is taking full advantage of the provisions of the tax laws to apprehend and prosecute tax defaulters.
According to the Executive Chairman of LIRS, Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo, ‘We have a robust database that captures all taxable individuals and firms in Lagos State as well as transactions for the purpose of audit, so there is no hiding place for any tax evader''.
He also added that The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice will through the Rapid Tax Prosecution Unit commence prosecution of tax defaulters in Lagos State without further notice.
He therefore calls on every taxable person in Lagos State to take advantage of the window on or before the March 31st deadline to ensure that his or her tax return has been duly filed.