Lagos raises legal team to prosecute tax defaulters
THE Lagos State government has raised a legal team to prosecute tax defaulters in its jurisdiction, under a plan to raise its internally revenue generation profile and thereby “deliver more effectively the people’s mandate.”
Already, the state has secured the approval of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to commence the prosecution agenda.
Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye made this known at the press briefing in Ikeja, yesterday.
Ipaye also disclosed that various fines and jail terms await convicted tax evaders, to ensure that people live up to their civic responsibilities.
The Guardian learnt that several corporate bodies and individuals have been lined up for prosecution, with some of them already notified formally of the impending court action.
Specifically, Ipaye said the state government had filed about 238 tax cases in the High Court, while 14,000 people have been invited to pay their taxes that were long overdue.
He said: “We are here to formally notify the public of the intention of the Lagos State Government to begin prosecution of tax offenders. In the coming days accused persons will be brought to court.”
Ipaye also informed that the state government has assembled a team of lawyers to handle the prosecution.
“We have assembled lawyers for the job. We have the fiat of the Attorney General to go ahead with the prosecution. This exercise is intended to awaken everybody to their tax duties.”
The Attorney-General lamented that only a few people in the state who are paying their taxes are carrying the burden of developing the entire state.
According to him, the tax law is a federal law, adding that the Lagos State Government is not enacting a new law, rather, “we are enforcing a law that has been in existence.”
He insisted that tax evasion was a criminal offence and that many of the defaulters have been reported to the police.
Special Assistant to Lagos State Governmenton Taxation and Revenue, Abimbola Shodipo, disclosed that the state government has recorded a marginal improvement in people under the states tax net from 2.7 million to three million.
This, he said, is a far cry from the eight million people prospective tax payers residing in the state.
He noted that the 300,000 additional tax payers came from the private sector calling on the rest to endeavour to pay their taxes.