TVC N. The Edo state government has approved a 50 percent waiver for tax defaulters in the state.
In a statement on Sunday, John Mayaki, interim chief press secretary to Godwin Obaseki, governor of the state, said the moratorium had its terms and conditions, including that all outstanding tax liabilities up to December 1, 2016 must be paid within 90 days.
He said debts were running running into billions of naira.
Mayaki also said that Obaseki’s gesture was meant to encourage them to join the pool of 10 per cent who pay taxes in the state in addition to tidying up the tax system.
He added that the gesture was announced at the end of a meeting between the state government and other stakeholders such as the Edo State Inland Revenue service (EIRS) and tax payers in the state.
According to Mayaki, the governor’s action is in response to concerns raised about wrong profiling and arbitrary tax assessment, adding that the tax payers complained of being “set on edge in the face of the economic recession”.
He stated that the governor had promised that the tax administration would be reviewed to check the perceived abuses and arbitrariness in tax assessment in the state.
He quoted the governor as giving his assurance that there would be adequate deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and trained personnel handling the various offices of EIRS in the state.
The governor, in the statement, also stated that an online portal where tax payers could assess and file their tax returns effortlessly would be set up in the next six months.
“On a final note, I agree with you, this is a new era,” the governor was quoted as saying.
“We are in a recession. Things are difficult and as a government that is listening, we must respond, but also, as a people, you must also reciprocate.”
“Therefore, we will look at all outstanding tax liabilities. We will waive most of the interest and penalties that have accumulated and impact on what is outstanding.
“We want a new start of a new dawn. We want to clean up and ensure that we face the future together with a common sense of purpose. We will be investing more in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). With ICT, you can assess yourself and file your returns on your own.”
“You are Edo citizens and you are not people under captivity, therefore our role as government is to serve you. We are collecting these taxes to provide service for you.
“We will not allow a situation whereby you see us as evil and unfriendly. Government must be friendly and perceived as humane. However, that is not a sign of weakness and that is something that we must emphasise in EIRS.”
Oseni Elamah, executive Chairman of Edo state Inland Revenue, had earlier said the state government had temporarily suspended the enforcement of an order against defaulters of the land use charge and consumer taxes to allow for dialogue.
He said some federal government agencies and hospitality businesses operating in the state had developed the habit of not remitting the personal income taxes otherwise called PAYE tax of their staff and employees.
According to him, “taxes are not collected on the basis of negotiation, but on the basis of laws, hence, the tax assessment review committee was set up as an arbiter”.