The Lagos State Government has revealed plans to prosecute defaulters of the Land Use Charge in the state in its bid to improve compliance.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Taxation and Revenue Matters, Mr Fatai Lasisi, stated this at a programme organised by the Lagos State Branch of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers tagged: ‘The Summit 2.0’.
Lasisi, who was represented by the Head of Legal in his office, Olufemi Sowemimo, said the development became necessary in order to engender a culture of voluntary tax compliance.
“Arguably, the greatest failing of property tax is the unwillingness of the government to enforce it, as we know that we have a lot of high net worth individuals in our society, who have big and gigantic properties but do not pay taxes yet; none of these people has been prosecuted for failing to pay tax. Therefore, we need strong institutional support to improve property tax compliance in the state,” he said.
He added that tax education and enlightenment programmes were also important and that the government was working on enlightening people on the need for tax compliance.
Lasisi stated that under the new property law, individuals did not need to wait for the government to send the LUC to them, but could value their properties using professionals to calculate how much they had to pay.
“Those contesting the assessed value of their property can assess their property for the purpose of filing their own counter assessment, which will then be considered by the Commissioner of Finance. The line the present administration in Lagos State is toeing is to encourage self-assessment for voluntary compliance, which will be of benefit to all in the long run,” he said.
The SA added that the state government had created a complaint unit in the Ministry of Finance to deal with issues and problems relating to the LUC.
According to him, the governor has directed that complaint units be set up in all the local governments and Local Council Development Areas of the state for easy access to the members of the public who have questions on the LUC.
Other complaint centres, he stated, were the LUC Appeal Tribunal, Citizens’ Gate and the toll-free lines.
“Tax and development run hand in hand. It should, therefore, be taken as a sure deal that the more revenue government has access to, the greater the development potential of that state or country. Evidence from the member counties of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development supports the fact that there is a correlation between tax and development,” Lasisi added.