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Groups accuse govt of shielding the wealthy from paying taxes

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The Niger Delta Budget Monitoring Group (NDEBUMOG) and Oxfam International have accused the federal and state governments of protecting the rich who evade taxes while the poor are managed to pay taxes.

The groups made the allegation during a multi-stakeholder dialogue in Lagos.

The Programme Officer, Public-Private Sector Transparency and Accountability Officer, Oxfam International, Henry Ushie, said government had been soft on the rich while the poor bear the grunt.

In a statement made available to newsmen recently, he said, “In retrieving taxes, I think the government has been soft on the rich but that is not the same with the poor. These rich people, including the multinationals, always find a way within the law to evade tax.

“Our system also allows these big companies to operate for some years without paying a dime. It will not be wrong to say the government has not been proactive on tax collection.”

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He added that “We have only explored 20 per cent of those who are taxable, which means 80 per cent is still untaxed. We should be able to bring these people into the tax net.”

He mentioned that taxes could be track if government agencies could harmonise their database systems.

“But if we can harmonise our scattered database systems, we can track everyone who is taxable through their Bank Verification Number or other means,” he noted.

The Chief Executive Officer, NDEBUMOG, George Anthony, stated that “Paying tax is the responsibility of every responsible citizen but people don’t have an interest in it due to the poor social amenities and the state of the economy. However, when you pay your tax, you have the moral right to demand effective service and accountability from the government.”

By Babatunde Alao…

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