By James Emejo
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has clamped down on the hospitality industry in Abuja, arresting about nine Managers who were accused of circumventing tax.
The concerned persons were said to have failed to register as taxpayers and had not been filing annual returns as mandated by law.
The latest tax compliance enforcement exercise followed repeated warning to the affected firms to comply with tax rules, which they ignored, THISDAY learnt.
Most of the companies have never attempted to remit the Value Added Tax (VAT), Company Income Tax or Personal Income Tax of Staff to the government-and yet some are not registered business entities, it was further gathered.
Deputy Director, Special Tax Office, Federal Capital Territory, FIRS, Mr. Peter Olayemi, who spear-headed the operation told journalists that the arrests had become necessary because companies had refused to be registered and as a result failed to pay taxes.
Where arrests were not possible, the Service carted away useful documents and computer hardware that could aid investigation.
The Service claims it has current outstanding tax liabilities to the tune of N170bn. Opeyemi said: “The management of FIRS mandated its regional offices to assist tax payers comply with the provision of tax laws.
“To implement this directive, tax envelops containing all relevant forms to register for tax were served on hotels and companies found not to have registered for tax remittance in the FCT, beginning from 2010 to early this year. After about two months of service of the tax envelope, we discovered that some are yet to register.
Moreover, he said, “This attitude is viewed as deliberate and an affront on the tax laws of Nigeria which should not be allowed to stand. These hotels have been in business for years without discharging their statutory responsibilities to register as a tax payer; a case of outright criminal evasion of tax.”
Some of the hotels visited include Adonai Hotel, La Don Hotel, Ignobis Hotel, Countryside Guest House and Medley Hotel.
All the arrested executive officers and manager who were apprehended admitted wrong-doing and were taken to the enforcement unit of the Service for further interrogation.
Their refusal to comply with tax laws is said to contravene Section 41 of the Companies Incomes Tax Act of 2004 and section 8 of the Value Added Tax Act of 1993.
Opeyemi added that section 33 of the FIRS establishment Act empowers it to enforce compliance with tax laws at the expiration of notification without further recourse to such companies.