Lagos Laments Rise in Tax Evasion, Begins Enforcement

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· Says only 600,000 pay taxes

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Lagos State Government on Monday lamented rise in the number of tax defaulters and evaders in the state, thereby directing all its revenue agencies to commence enforcement of payment by all tax defaulters with immediate effect.

The state government, also, lamented that 600,000 residents out of 4.9 million taxable residents “are up to date in paying their taxes,” a situation he said was not helpful to scale up provision of infrastructure and other amenities for the people.

These are contained in a statement by the Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, yesterday, lamenting that the prevailing situation would adversely affect government’s infrastructure renewal drive currently ongoing across the state.

The number of residents captured in the state’s tax net stood at 4.9 million at the end of 2016; though the state had brought more residents into its tax net from 4.59 million in 2015 to 4.5 million in 2014; 4.17 million in 2013 and 3.13 million in 2012.

Despite the sustained increase in the number of taxable residents in the last five years, more than 3 million residents are not captured yet while only 600,000 among those captured in the state’s tax net pay their tax commitment up to date.

Consequently, in a statement he issued yesterday, Ayorinde disclosed the plan of the state government to sanction all tax defaulters and evaders, thus directing all its revenue agencies “to ensure prompt payment of taxes and commence enforcement of payment by all tax defaulters with immediate effect.”

He noted that many residents “are no longer fulfilling their civic obligation of paying their taxes and that the prevailing situation would adversely affect government’s infrastructural renewal drive currently ongoing across the state.”
He explained that Ambode had at a forum recently expressed concern that only about 600,000 Lagos residents are up to date in paying their taxes, a situation he said was not helpful to scale up provision of infrastructure and other amenities for the people.

Ayorinde said the state government “remains committed to completing all ongoing projects on schedule, but that it was largely dependent on prompt payment of taxes by residents in the state.”

He listed some of the major ongoing projects to include the Oshodi Transport Interchange, reconstruction of the Oshodi International Airport Road, network of roads in Epe to link Ijebu Ode, construction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Lane from Abule Egba to Oshodi and the construction of the Pen Cinema flyover.

He also said the state government has also commenced the construction of over 20 networks of roads within the boundaries of Lagos and Ogun States to ease movement and enhance business activities between the two states.

He listed the 20 roads to include Ikola Road with Odo Obasanjo Bridge – 6.4 kilometres from Ipaja-Command to Ilo River; Ogunseye Road – 1.75 kilometres from Ajasa-Command to Ikola Road; Oko Filling Road – 1.5 kilometres from AIT to Ilo River; Osenatu Ilo road – 620 metres from Ibari Road to Ilo River; Amikanle road – 3.1 kilometres from AIT to Ogunseye Road; Aina Aladi road – 1.9 kilometres from AIT to Ilo River and Aiyetoro Road with a bridge– 1.4 kilometres from New Market-Ishefun Road intersection to Ilo River.

“These projects have already begun in earnest. The construction of the 181 roads earmarked across the 57 local councils, which is now an annual ritual of this government will commence anytime soon and many more too numerous to mention.

“The will and commitment of the Ambode administration is to ensure that all these projects are completed before 2019. But the possibility of achieving such will require taxable citizens of the state who have not been paying their taxes to start doing so.

“This administration is grateful to Lagos residents who have supported the state government particularly in the discharge of their civic responsibility through payment of taxes. That is the oil that keeps the engine and wheels of government moving smoothly.

“But when there are no resources, these laudable projects would be stalled. No government in the world can achieve its set out objectives without funds and these funds are available largely from what residents pay as taxes. It is therefore expedient that taxes should be paid correctly as at when due.”

He said that some of the major projects that have been completed so far including the Abule Egba and Ajah flyovers, the Aboru Abesan Link Bridge, Ago Palace Way, Ajasa Command Road, network of roads in Ogudu and Epe, construction of the DNA Forensic Centre, among many others, were as a result of the tax payers money which according to him, the state government judiciously utilised to make life more comfortable for the people.