By NBF News

'We don't need tax consultants'
By Bolade Oladoye
Lagos business community yesterday at the Nigerian-South African Chambers of Commerce March Breakfast Forum, again insisted on the scrapping of the use of consultants in tax collection in Lagos State.

Participants at the forum told Tunde Fowler, the Chairman of Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS), that the consultants were fond of conjuring phantom liabilities, whenever their requests for gratifications were rejected, which usually ended up in protracted litigations.

State is helpless
However, Mr Fowler said there is nothing the state can do right now to do away with the tax consultants, except that organisations should report erring consultants to the tax office, and the agency will in turn take the matter up with the relevant professional bodies for sanctions, which will include being blacklisted by the Lagos office.

'No consultant is expected to demand anything from you; they are just expected to generate data from your audited account. Anyone who does not operate professionally should be reported,' he said

Furthermore, the tax boss noted, the state tax agency is just recruiting and training staff, adding that there is no way a 2,000 member staff strength can adequately audit over 300,000 businesses in Lagos.

Multiple taxation
With regard to the issue of multiple taxes such as consumption tax and value added tax (VAT) levied on the hospitality industry, Mr Fowler clarified that the VAT is not a tax on the hotel owners, but on consumers.

Earlier in his presentation titled; Challenges Faced with Employers of Labour Case Study of Multi-National Companies & 'Allegation of Negative Impact of Multiple Taxes on Businesses in Lagos', the Lagos tax office boss noted that although the state has recorded increased revenues from taxes, the level of compliance still leaves much to desire.

Mr Fowler, who also doubled as the Executive Chairman, Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue insisted that there is evidence of a willful and deliberate tax evasion by corporate establishments, which he attributed to poor corporate governance.

He argued that the reason people still evade tax is because no one has been prosecuted or jailed yet, as most cases were settled out of court.