FIRS Seals Three Eateries in Owerri over Tax Evasion

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Abby Uneze in Owerri

The enforcement team of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has sealed the premises of three tax-defaulting business outfits in Owerri, the Imo state capital.

According to the enforcement team, the three outfits which had evaded payment their tax liabilities were shut after concerted efforts by the FIRS to get them to comply failed.

The affected eateries are City Chef Restaurant, owned by a top government functionary; De Munch Eatery House and Comet Hotels & Conference, all located within the Owerri Metropolis.

Briefing journalists after the exercise, the team led by Mr. Chinazo Edeh explained that all due processes laid down by the law were exhausted before the businesses were sealed.

He said: “We assessed and gave them notice of what they owe as tax. They did not respond to our communication. This was followed up with two separate reminders. Thereafter a demand notice was sent to them with all these largely ignored. After the expiration of the one month window following the final notice, we were left with no option but to enforce the law.”

The FIRS official said that City Chef has a tax liability of N2.1million; Comet Hotel & Conference has N2.3million liability while De Munch eatery has a tax burden of N20million.

At the point of sealing Comet Hotel & Conference, the company lawyer rushed to the bank and paid N70,000 but that, according to the enforcement team was inadequate to unseal the hotel.

“They rushed to pay N70,000 out of a tax liability of N2.1 million. That does not show seriousness. As a matter of fact, the money they just paid is a penalty for an earlier infringement for late registration. They have paid nothing on the Value Added Tax obligations. In any case, the order to seal this place came from our head office, the order to unseal will also come from there”, the team explained.

Disney Hotels and Oasis Communications were served alsoserve defaulting notice by the FIRS team.