Lagos Public Servants Protest Regressive Tax

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LAGOS, August 02, (THEWILL) - The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria has launched an intensive campaign against heavy rates and charges being deducted from their salaries, describing the deductions as indiscriminately regressive and unprogressive.

A circular titled: ‘Latest on Tax Deduction and Salaries Review’ and endorsed by the state Chairman, Comrade M.A. Oluwa and Secretary, Comrade A.A. Kazeem posted on notice boards in some ministries contained the protest.

But Special Adviser on Taxation and Revenue, Mr. Adeola Ipaye said government was not over-taxing the public servants, challenging those who noticed indiscriminate deductions from their salaries to come forward with their slips.

In the circular, the association said the issue of tax deduction from workers’ salaries was the latest complaint which is giving the association serious concern as it has serious impinges on the living standards of the state’s public servants.

The association explained that the tax deduction "was discussed with all the stakeholders, including the members of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council representing all workers in public service of Lagos State.

"The Lagos Internal Revenue Service, LIRS presented necessary tax documents. The agency’s position states that the present deductions are in agreement with what is stipulated in Income Tax Law, thus it is not illegal deductions.

"We wish to assure our esteem members that the issue of tax deduction will be pursued to its logical conclusion as labour is not in total agreement with the LIRS’ position. We therefore urge all officers to keep vigil.

"The salient point that we have addressed is the fact that the hen for instance, Lagos State workers, that lays the golden eggs should not be malnourished. Since the tax rebate of N10, 000 on children and dependants has not been amended since 1999, the state government should be prepared to give workers appreciable subsidy on tax deduction," it said.

The association called on the administration of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) to ensure that tax subsidy is 50 percent of the current tax deductions as applicable in some other states.

In a reaction, the Special Adviser said the state government was not over-taxing civil servants, saying that they had looked at the pay slips of some workers and found out that government was being just in its tax regime.

Ipaye added that the state government normally "collects 25 percent as tax from the public servants and 18 percent from civil servants’ salaries. Let them bring their pay slips and I will work it out for them.

He said the government tax gross earnings "is stipulated by the Income Tax Law. There is nowhere in the Income Tax Law where it said you should only tax the basic salaries but we tax gross earnings. We only remove items such as housing, transportation and children and tax the rest."