By Eromosele Abiodun
As part of efforts to enhance the ease of doing business in Lagos State, the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service ((LIRS) has announced various initiatives aimed at achieving efficient tax administration in the State.
The Executive Chairman of LIRS, Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo made this known at a press conference in Lagos.
According to Ogunsanwo, the agency has consistently been at the vanguard of reform activities aimed at easing the process of doing business in Lagos State in particular and by extension Nigeria, thereby championing several initiatives aimed at supporting the state governor Akinwunmi Ambode in achieving his electoral promises to Lagosians.
Among the initiatives is the introduction of a new two-page tax form to replace the old six-page form which is to be used for both direct and self-assessments.
He stated that the revised form and its guide notes would be translated to Pidgin English and Yoruba for ease of completion and wider reach”
In the same vein, the LIRS boss noted that physical filing of Annual Returns is already being complemented with e-submission (on-line submission of Annual Returns) to ease compliance by Tax Payers.
Another initiative by the LIRS, according to the chairman, is the introduction of customer-care desk in all the 38 Tax Stations to deal promptly with all issues that may be brought up by tax-payers saying the initiative will be complemented with the launch of LIRS Hotline that will provide 24/7 customer-call service in English, Yoruba and Pidgin English.
Ogunsanwo emphasised that payment for tax should be made convenient and because of this the agency is leveraging on technology to offer multi-modal payment portals including but not limited to PoS, mPay, online, without sacrificing the traditional/extant payment portal at the bank thereby taking payment portals to the tax payers for their convenience.
He added that the agency has concluded all arrangements to ensure that maximum response time of 72 hours to all electronic tax clearance certificate (e-TCC) requisitions is met and failure should be reported to any of customer care-desks.
He disclosed that the current cumbersome requirements for replacement of lost e-TCC such as Police Report, Sworn Affidavit etc are to be waived and replaced with presentation of LASRRA Card while the replacement fee is to be reduced from N2,500 to N1,000 only.
Specifically, he stated that the agency has commenced the process of overhauling of the informal sector operations with a view to easing voluntary compliance by tax payers in this huge sector that have been categorized into three which include the Market Men/Women and Artisans, Micro, Small & Medium Scale Enterprises (including Professionals) and Household Domestic Staff (HDS).
In view of the declining revenue from the centre as a result of fall in the price of crude oil, Ogunsanwo revealed that LIRS is poised to focusing on other revenue sources such as Consumption Tax from Hotel Occupancy, Withholding Tax on Contracts, Rent, Royalties and other areas to shore up the Revenue in the State.
Speaking at the event, the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Niji Kazeem said the administration of Governor Ambode had put in place necessary measures to end the era of tax evasion and indeed avoidance in the state, adding that tax avoiders and evaders would be aggressively pursued in line with the provisions of the law.
Kazeem, who disclosed that the Ministry of Justice had established a Rapid Tax Prosecution Unit to aid the Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) in its drive to collect taxes, added that the unit would work closely with the Revenue Courts, which the Chief Judge of Lagos State recently agreed to set up.
The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Mustapha Akinkunmi said in the light of the reduction of federal transfers to States including Lagos, the State government was looking inwards to secure sustainable ways of increasing its revenue profile and plugging leakages in the system.