Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Wednesday said that the payment of tax is and will remain a legal obligation of citizens, and non payment of same is a criminal act.
The Governor explained this at the public presentation of a book entitled, ‘Nigerian Tax Law and Administration’, written by the Lagos State Attorney General (AG) and Justice Commissioner, Mr. Ade Ipaye, which held at the Muson Center, Lagos Island.
Governor Fashola in his speech argued that comments credited to the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, that taxes should not be paid, is condemnable.
While stating that it is the duty of government at all levels to protect its citizens, Fashola suggested that tax payment should not be taken for granted, if the country must thrive.
The Governor said, “Tax administration is a vexed matter. The incentive for productivity is gone due to non-payment of tax. It is a tool for equal distribution of wealth and equilibrium.”
He added: “tax payment cannot be taken for granted. Any politician that says he will cancel payment of tax is telling you a lie. There is no way government can achieve the implementation of laudable projects without revenue from taxes.”
He further disclosed that payment of tax was dated back to the pre-colonial days where the traditional rulers collected tax to run their domain which was not limited to money but farm produce.
He therefore called on Lagosians to be encouraged to pay their taxes and challenged the government for the proper utilization of the tax collected.
He said, “What you can do is to pay your tax. The payment of tax is a legal obligation. Failure to pay tax is criminal offence. What you can do is for you to withhold your votes for government or the candidate that fail to utilize your tax.
“Also, what should be the discussion or the debate should be who is to pay more and who is to pay less. We left tax for oil revenue, where are we today? This state will continue to survive on tax receipt.”
Earlier in her opening remarks, Chairman at the occasion and presiding judge of the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal, Justice Amina Augie, maintained that the book would help judges at all levels to tackle the aspect of law that they are not conversant with.
Urging the author to do more in writing, the appellate court presiding judge advised lawyers across the country to consider specialising in an aspect of the law that would make them remain relevant.
In his remark, Ipaye challenged Lagosians to continue paying their taxes in order to ensure continuous development of the state.