The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) seems to be making efforts to improve the ease with which business is conducted in Lagos State. The government agency announced different initiatives with the aim to achieve efficient tax administration in the Lagos.
Mr. Olufolarin Ogunsanwo, The Executive Chairman of LIRS, shared this information Tuesday March 8 at a press conference held at Lagos Press Centre, Ikeja. With him was the House Committee Chairman on Finance, Lagos State House of Assembly, Honorable Oluyinka Ogundimu, Lagos State Commissioners for Finance, Mr. Mustapha Akinkunmi, Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde and the Attorney General of the Lagos State, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem.
According to Ogunsanwo, LIRS has always been at the forefront of reformist activities geared at improving the process of conducting business in Lagos State and Nigeria by extension; spearheading many initiatives to support Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to fulfill his electoral promises to Lagosians.
One of such initiatives is the introduction of a new two-page tax form to replace the former six-page form. The form will be used for both direct and self-assessments. Ogunsanwo said that the new form and its guide notes will be translated into Pidgin English as well Yoruba language to facilitate a wider reach The chairman also noted that physical filing of Annual Returns is already being complemented with non-line submission of Annual Returns to ease tax payers’ compliance.
According to him, another initiative by LIRS is the introduction of customer-care desks in all 38 Tax Stations so as to promptly address any issues tax-payers may have. He said that the customer care desks initiative will be complemented by the launch of LIRS Hotline that is to provide round the clock customer-call service in English, Yoruba and Pidgin English.
The chairman emphasized that tax payment should be convenient and thus the agency is taking advantage of technology to offer multi-modal payment options that include, but not limited to PoS, mPay, online channels etc. without sacrificing the traditional payment portal at the bank.
Ogunsanwo further pointed out that LIRS has concluded arrangements that ensure a maximum response time of 72 hours to all electronic tax clearance certificate (e-TCC) requisitions. Failure to comply should be reported to any of customer care-desks.
The chairman also said that the exasperating and time consuming process for replacing lost e-TCC that includes producing documents like police report, sworn affidavit etc. is to be scrapped and replaced with presentation of only LASRRA Card while a reduction in replacement fees N2,500 to N1,000 will be effected.
The chairman specifically said that the agency has started an overhaul process in the informal sector operations with the aim to ease voluntary compliance by tax payers in this huge sector. The sector has been categorized into three; Market Men/Women and Artisans, Micro, Small & Medium Scale Enterprises (including Professionals) and Household Domestic Staff (HDS).
As regards the decline in revenue from the centre following the fall in the price of crude oil, Ogunsanwo revealed that the agency is set to focus on other revenue sources like Consumption Tax from Hotel Occupancy, Withholding Tax on Contracts, Rent, Royalties and other areas to shore up the Revenue in the State.
Also speaking at the event, the Attorney General and commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr. Niji Kazeem said the Ambode administration has put necessary measures in place to end tax evasion and avoidance in Lagos State. He also added that tax defaulters and evaders will be aggressively pursued in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The Commissioner disclosed that the Ministry of Justice has established a Rapid Tax Prosecution Unit to aid LIRS in its quest to collect taxes, adding that the unit will work closely with Revenue Courts, which the Chief Judge of Lagos State recently agreed to set up.
The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Mustapha Akinkunmi said that in the light of the reduction of federal transfers to states, the state government is looking inwards to secure sustainable ways of increasing its revenue and filling the holes in the system.
Other crucial stakeholders in attendance at the well-attended press conference include President, Chartered institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Mrs Olateju Somorin,Vice president, Lagos State Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mrs. Agnes Shobajo, representatives of Association of professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Market Men and Women Associations of Nigeria, Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) among others.