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20 People In Trouble As FIRS Pounces On Tax Offenders In Bayelsa

20 People In Trouble As FIRS Pounces On Tax Offenders In Bayelsa

Twenty tax offenders have been arrested in Bayelsa State and made to sign an undertaking to settle their indebtedness before December 31, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) said on Monday.

State director of the FIRS, Patrick Iroro, said the development followed the intensification of raids on business organizations that failed to pay their annual taxes or remit the Value Added Tax (VAT) they collected on behalf of government.

Over 40 business premises in Yenagoa, including the Meglams Hotel, owned by the wife of first civilian governor of the state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, had been ‘invaded’ and sealed off by the agency since last Saturday.

It was gathered that most hotels, restaurants, eateries, supermarkets and other businesses in Yenagoa, had evaded tax payment and also failed to remit money collected from VAT to the appropriate quarters.

Among the places raided at the weekend were De-Rich Park Hotel, Celebrity Hotel, Dela Santos Hotel, Monalisa Guest House, Jubilee Hotel, Stop Over Car Wash, all in the Yenagoa metropolis.

Iroro, however, lamented that the recalcitrant attitude of business operators had been the agency’s major challenge.

According to him, most of them had yet to accept the fact that it was their civic obligation to pay their taxes, while some believe that the government was taking money from them unfairly.

“If you are doing business because of profit and you make profit, the government deserves a little of that profit and that is what you pay to government.

“And then for Value Added Tax, it is not even your money, government has appointed you as agent to help collect that five per cent for VAT from consumers and pay it to the government. People find it difficult to pay tax and VAT which is not their money.

“So far, from this exercise and the previous ones, we have arrested over 20 people, and as you are aware, what we are doing is to bring them here, sit down with them and come to terms.

“Those who have not registered, we make them to register and start filing their returns and those who owe, we make them to understand how to liquidate their debts. But they have to pay some money for defaulting”, he said.

Iroro added that the agency had embarked on various enlightenment programmes, stressing that the agency was also inviting trade groups to their offices to educate them, though most of them had not attended.

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