Lagos generates N24.5bn in one month

Eniola Ajayi, Lagos

Barring the current economic realities in the country, the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has generated a total of 24.5 billion naira for the month of January 2016.

This was disclosed by the State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Mustapha Akinkunmi at an inter-ministerial press briefing in Ikeja.

Mr Mustapha explained that the 24.5 billion naira amounted to 98 percent budget performance for the LIRS which had been given a 25 billion naira target in the state’s 2016 budget.

The LIRS has contributed 79 percent percent to our internally generated revenue in 2015; this equates 56 percent of the state’s total revenue including federal transfers, this trend of strong performance has continued, in January this year, LIRS has contributed 24.5 billion in revenue, attaining 98 percent budget performance and recording twelve percent growth from the same period in 2014,” he stressed.

The Finance Commissioner reiterated that the development was a testament of government’s drive to vigorously explore other revenue sources and look away from oil.

Tax Evaders Courts

On his part, the Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem declared that the era of tax evasion was over, stressing that the state’s Chief Judge had consented to the establishment of revenue magistrate courts to fight tax defaulters.

“I want to assure ‘Lagosians’ that the era of tax evasion is coming to an end; we are going to aggressively pursue tax evaders, prosecution and jail terms for defaulting tax payers will be the tools we are going to employ to ensure full tax compliance, the Ministry of Justice will establish what we call a rapid Tax Prosecution Unit to assist the LIRS in its drive to collect taxes,” according to the State’s Attorney General.

Tax Net

However, the LIRS Chairman, Mr Olufolarin Ogunsanwo revealed that the current 98 percent budget performance of the revenue agency was based on 65 percent of taxable Lagos residents. In the words of Mr Ogunsanwo, “about 35 percent of taxable residents are yet to be brought into the tax net.”

He affirmed that the Lagos state government would widen its tax net to include household/domestic staff within the state.

Mr Ogunsanwo explained that the new tax regime was in line with the government’s agenda of engagement and inclusion in which every resident is expected to contribute and benefit.

“The declining national revenue as a result of the fall in the global price of oil and the need for government to provide and maintain basic infrastructure necessitated the introduction of the new tax regime. Three categories of tax payers in the informal sector include artisans and traders, operators of professional Micro, Small and Medium Scale enterprises as well as household domestic staff; a directorate had been created in the agency to oversee the sector, while modalities for taxing these categories of people have been worked out,” he noted.

New payment platforms

Mr Ogunsanwo stated that in addition to the traditional bank portal, new payment platforms, including Pos, online and other electronics multi-modal system had been introduced to make it easier for residents to remit their taxes.

He said a review of the tax form ‘A’ of the Personal Income Tax act have also been conducted, while its guides notes would be translated into pidgin English and the Yoruba language for ease of completion and wider reach.

Mr Ogunsanwo said disciplinary measures, including outright dismissal have been introduced to check corrupt practices among LIRS staff, while customer care desks would soon be created in all the thirty eight tax stations within the state.