The Lagos state government has announced through the Executive Chairman of Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo, its plan to extend tax payment obligation to domestic workers and artisans in the state. According to news report, the plan will affect market men and women, artisans and household domestic staff.
The Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, CACOL, while commending the Ambode regime for some noticeable developmental projects being implemented across the state and encouraging the government not to relent, would not want the regime to snatch with left hand what it has offered the poor Lagosians with the right hand, frowns at the idea of taxing the poor, the under-employed and unemployed considering that the conditions of existence of these categories of citizens has hitherto been painful and characterized with penury and deprivations; a situation which remain unchanged and as a matter of fact deteriorating rapidly.
Mr. Debo Adeniran, Executive Chairman of CACOL questioned the logic behind the taxing of persons who are already impoverished consequent upon the failure of government in facilitating gainful employment opportunities on one hand and failure in service delivery by the government on the other. He said, ‘’one would expect a government that promised what was presumed to be positive ‘change’ during electioneering campaigns to alleviate the sufferings of the people to understand that the condition of living of these categories of persons cannot but get worsened with imposition of unwarranted taxes since their incomes (if they earn at all) have not improved.’’
‘’Most perplexing is that those categorized as ‘household domestic staff’ are included when we all know that most of these staff are only paid in kind. Majority of domestic staff are housed, fed clothed etc. by their employers, and where they are paid stipends, such stipends are usually sent to their chaperons or parents, so how would they be able to afford to pay tax? Mr. Adeniran asked. “The other categories can barely take care of their very basic needs with the paltry they earn via extra-ordinary hard work in their self-preservation and survivalist efforts especially since government offers no Social Security plans for the under-employed and unemployed.’’ He added
‘’And on tax collection and methods generally, reports also have it that Alpha Beta Company would serve as the tax collectors in the plan to tax the already impoverished people of Lagos state’’ continued Mr. Adeniran, ‘this we find this to be very disturbing on one hand because of its susceptibility to corrupt and sharp practices and on the other to be contrary to the laudable Treasury Single Account (TSA) which they All Progressive Congress APC-led government is utilizing at the Federal level to plug holes of corruption in the system. Is the Governor Ambode Lagos state APC-led government against the TSA idea, we ask? Why is it that the LIRS cannot handle revenue collections and why is Lagos state not taking steps to localize the TSA idea? Paying Alpha-Beta to do a job that the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service is set up to do is to make Lagos tax payers pay twice for single service rendered; CACOL demands that the ill-conceived arrangement should be stopped forthwith.’’
CACOL is of the opinion that Lagos state should employ the services of outfits akin to SystemSpecs that could utilize modern technology like Remita to ease all the bottlenecks in tax collection and thereby achieving the plugging of the conduits pipes of corruption just like the Federal Government have been able to save about 3 trillion naira in 6 months as result of the TSA. Software solutions have been proven to be much more effective in reducing the complexities of revenue collection and remittance.
‘’Above all, we strongly demand that the Lagos state government desist from going ahead with the plan to tax people that are under-employed as this will amount to adding to their sufferings and total insensitivity to their plights. People who are short of blood do not donate blood. We advise the government to provide services to these categories of people which can be taxed upon consumption similar to the Value Added Tax (VAT), such they will only be taxed for services they access that is provisioned by government. The reason government is instituted in the first place is to harness the resources of society for the social welfare of the people as enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Nigerian constitution, if government has failed in doing this, it will be unfair to compound the pains of the impoverished who are engaged in self-help for their survival and existential issues by imposing unwarranted taxes.’’ Executive Chairman of CACOL concluded.
Media Coordinator, CACOL
March 10, 2016.
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