Calabar - The Cross River Internal Revenue Service has embarked on the closure of business premises in Calabar over tax evasion, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Investigations by NAN revealed that the exercise was due to failure by the owners of the businesses to pay their Personal Income Tax (PAYE) for 2012 and 2013.
Commenting on the development, Denis Usibe, the Head of Informal Sector in the Cross River Internal Revenue Service (IRS), told NAN that the closure was due to the traders’ failure to comply with the civic responsibility.
He expressed disappointment that in spite of the government’s campaigns through the media on the need for people to pay their taxes, some people chose to remain recalcitrant.
"We have tried to wear a human face in tax enforcement; we are in November 2013; yet, some people have not paid taxes for 2012.
"We have entered into dialogue with various traders’ associations; nevertheless, there is no improvement.
"We go on the streets to announce to the people to come to the IRS office to pay taxes but the response has remained very low,” he said.
Usibe, however, clarified that the issue in question was personal income tax and not permits for use of the business premises or any other form of taxes.
Besides, Mike Igbo, the Head of Communication of the agency, said that a task force had been set up to educate the people on their civic responsibilities and monitor tax payment across the state.
He said that the exercise would be carried out in all the major towns of the state, including Obudu, Ikom, Ugep and Ogoja.
"The exercise is to invigorate the process of tax collection and generation of revenue for the state.
"However, people have started complying by coming to the IRS office to pay," he said.
One of the affected traders, Margaret Etim, however, told NAN that she could not pay N12 000 yearly as tax, as demanded by the IRS.
"This is the only thing I sell; I do not know where I can get the N12 000 to pay every year," she said.
Another trader, Ernest Eze, complained that he had paid his taxes up to 2013, adding, however, that the IRS agents suddenly increased his tax, claiming that his income was not commensurate with the amount he paid as tax.
"I was given a yearly tax of N15 000, which I have since been paying; but they are now telling me that I am supposed to pay more because my income is high.
"I will not accept that anyway," Eze added.