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Lagos govt shuts 13 companies over N33.8 million tax evasion

The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) has shut 13 companies for failure to remit N33.78 million Personal Income Tax of members of their staff to the government.

Ajibike Oshodi-Sholola, the Head, Distrain Unit of LIRS, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Friday that the companies were sealed during a tax law enforcement exercise.

Mrs. Oshodi-Sholola, who also led the enforcement team, said that the tax liabilities of the companies were for between 12 months and six years.

She said that eight companies were sealed for N18.39 million on Nov. 25, while the other five companies were shut for N15.39 million on Nov. 26.

She added that of the 16 firms expected to be sealed within the two-day exercise, two companies had relocated to an unknown destination, while one had been liquidated.

She said that the liabilities of both the liquidated company and the relocated one amounted to N2.61 million.

Mrs. Oshodi-Sholola said that LIRS had sent tax liabilities demand notice and notice of intent to the affected companies to pay up as required by the Personal Income Tax Amendment Act of 2011.

“Each of the letters that we sent to the companies was received and acknowledged by either any of companies’ staff or the management of the firms.

“So, for any of the companies saying that LIRS did not notify them before coming to seal their premises is not an excuse.

“Normally, firms are not even supposed to wait for anybody to remind them of their statutory obligation of paying tax to the government of the land where they operate,’’ she said.

Mrs. Oshodi-Sholola noted that the enforcement would continue until tax payers imbibed the culture of voluntary tax compliance, adding that the removal of government seal was a criminal offence.

According to her, the companies that are affected by the last month tax law enforcement include hotels, environment management, pharmaceutical, recruitment, and real estate firms.

Meanwhile, some members of staff of the affected companies have lamented the sudden entrance of LIRS officials into their premises over unpaid taxes.

Godwin Asamuel, the Secretary, UNICO CPFA Ltd., said that LIRS did not serve the company any notice before shutting their company.

Mr. Asamuel said that the two letters (demand notice and letter of intention to distrain) LIRS claimed to have sent to the company were never received by any staff of the company.

“There is no staffer of the company that bears either James Williams or John, which are the names of the individuals that acknowledged the letters sent by LIRS.

“It means that we were not notified by LIRS of any tax liabilities before coming to seal the company and this is not fair enough,” he said.

Also speaking, Tony Ademola, the Administrative Secretary, Global Trade Investment Nigeria Ltd., said the company was aware of its tax liabilities to the Lagos State Government.

Ademola said that the company was making arrangement about how to source money and pay-off the liabilities.

“We admitted that our company has been audited and it owes government.

“But sealing the company is not the best option because if it is shutdown, there is no way it will make money to pay the debt,” he said.

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