When stakeholders move for judicious use of tax, stop excesses

*Expert seeks appeal tribunal to protect tax payers

By John Odunjo

Stakeholders under the informal sector in Ekiti State have called for judicious use of the resources accruable to the state through taxes for them to have value for what they pay.

The taxpayers, under the auspices of the ‘Tax for Service Group’, who lamented imposition of double and multiple taxation on them by Ekiti State Government, bemoaned the effects on their businesses and wellbeing.

The group’s Chairman, Prof Christopher Oluwadare, spoke on Saturday at a two-day Stakeholders’ Meeting on Tax for Service in Ekiti State organized by the New Initiative for Social Development in collaboration with Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room with the support of United Kingdom International Development.

The engagement with stakeholders in the informal sector was to sensitize them about the need to engage government and monitor the utilization of taxes.

Oluwadare, represented by the group’s secretary, Akin Abimbola, said, “The negative effect of the double and multiple taxes is not only affecting the masses in the state, but causing poor patronage for business owners.

The TSG vowed to monitor government activities to ensure tax payers had value for what they pay and also collaborate to identify and stop tax leakage”.

Abimbola, said, “All of the informal sector pays direct tax, not only direct tax, we are paying withholding taxes, my section (hoteliers) are paying about three different taxes and about 12 other charges and levies to the government. Aside from that, we pay directors’ tax, we pay consumption tax.

“This is part of the grey area which we will sit with the government to address. This group will stand against double taxations, multiple taxations and uncertainty in the payments of tax. We will want to ensure there is no provision for double or multiple taxation. With that, definitely people will be eager to pay, especially when they can see what the government is doing with it.

“If a hotel pays so much as tax and there are no good roads to the hotel, no light, no infrastructure that can make development of the business, which is the reason why we are coming up.

“We will be out there not just to query them, but to at the same time educate members on the reasons why tax needs to be paid. From the stakeholders’ meeting before we arrived at the formulation of this group, we have been able to educate that tax payment is statutory,” he said.

A resource person at the parley, Mr Adedayo Eniola Arogundade, called for the establishment of the State Tax Appeal Tribunal in Ekiti State where Tax payers can lodge complaint and get justice, noting that, just like government, tax payers also need to be protected.

Arogundade, a commercial and Corporate Law expert, also said that tax authorities must educate the taxpayers on the nature of taxes and levies being collected in the best language they understand to make the collection easy and voluntary.

He said, “There should be uniformity in all State Laws and National Acts so that the issue of multiplicity of taxes and double taxation will be curbed. I am aware that EKIRS is working on a harmonized billing system for the taxpayers, it will also in a long way ease the tension on the Taxpayer.

“Considerable exemptions should be given to certain individuals and businesses who meet specific requirements to aid economic growth in the overall interest of Ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government,” the expert said.

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