Tax evaders in Lagos State may be in for a hard time from April 1, as the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, says it will start prosecuting tax evaders and defaulters from that date.
According to a statement signed by the LIRS Executive Chairman, Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo, on Wednesday, the action has become necessary because a large number of Lagosians had not paid their taxes despite the fact that the law mandates eligible tax payers to pay within 90 daysof the New Year.
The statement reads: “Under the Personal Income Tax Act, a taxable person is statutorily required to file a return of income for the preceding year within 90 days from the commencement of every year of assessment (March 31st being the deadline), while every 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.”
According to Ogunsanwo, the LIRS has concluded plans to ensure the enforcement of the tax laws with effect from April 1, 2016, warning that no offender will have a hiding place.
Continuing, the LIRS boss said the service had engaged in advocacy and public enlightenment programmes to encourage residents of the state to pay their taxes. This, he said, led to some residents complying willingly.
“But it is disheartening to note that a large fraction of eligible taxpayers are still not complying, thereby failing to contribute to the common purse for the 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.
Ogunsanwo said the LIRS has decided to move to the next phase which is enforcement and prosecution.
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