19th August, 2010
Banks, aviation industry operators and multinational firms are owing N43.8 billion in unpaid taxes, Mr. Tunde Fowler, the Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), said on Wednesday.
Fowler told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the amount represented unpaid taxes between 2007 and 2009.
He said the government had not in any way over-taxed salary earners, individuals, companies or business groups as alleged in some newspapers, and added that such an impression was erroneous.
The government, he said, had no intention of refunding taxes earlier remitted to it by any individual or group.
The commissioner’s clarification was in response to a report credited to a representative of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria that Lagos State ought to refund over-charged taxes.
Fowler explained that the issue of tax was under the Federal Government’s purview, noting that the highest tax rate now was 25 percent as opposed to the 40-45 percent charged in some advanced countries.
He said that rather than refund excess taxes, the state was being owed N43.8 billion by some banks, stakeholders in the aviation industry and multinational companies.
“The state revenue service is aware that operators in the above sectors employ highly qualified personnel, utilise the services of notable consultants and enjoy foreign affiliations.
“Yet they evade the taxes payable on such services, and we are using a strong enforcement to get the taxes paid,” he said.
The LIRS executive chairman appealed to stakeholders to always pay their taxes promptly, saying that such taxes were needed for infrastructural development.
He also said that the taxes were required by the government to attain its vision of transforming Lagos into “a safe, secure, functional and productive” African model city.
“As part of the agency’s efforts to achieve its goals, we are advocating for the removal of all encumbrances in connection with the incorporation of companies to make tax compliance easier.
“Owners of businesses must be made to attach importance to their tax obligations.
“We all know that companies are run through the mandate of their owners. It can be injurious to separate a business from its owners,” Fowler added.