By: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Over 80 per cent businesses still operating in Cross River State, especially in the state capital, Calabar are on the verge of shutting down due to over taxation by the state government, the New Nigerian Online investigation, has revealed.
This is in the wake of new threats from the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) and its demand for over 33 documents in the on-going notification of tax audit exercise (2011 to 2016.
Our investigation reveed that several companies and other businesses have relocated to nearby states over Taxation issue either direct from the state government or from the local government.
Owners of these businesses had cried out to the state governor Senator Ben Ayade to interven, but regrettably, nothing has been done yo address this problem.
In a related development, the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) has issued letters to several businesses, whether big or small of its intention to commence tax audit from 2011 to 2016 with a view to increasing their taxes at the end of the exercise.
A document made available to our Correspondent in Calabar, reference IRS/TAI/AN/NGB/2018, dated July 19, 2018 signed by Okplewu, Victor.Akpa, deputy director/Head, Tax Audit and Investigation, is requesting owners of businesses to present 33 documents during the exercise.
Such documents required include, “audited accounts and or management accounts, schedule of tax remittances/receipts, staff pay roll detailing basic salaries, housing allowance, utility allowance and meal subsidy amongst others”.
Others are staff salary structure, all payment vouchers (cheque/cash) last clearance letter of tax audit from Board of Internal.(BIR) list of suppliers and contractors and rent schedule/Agreements.
The document further quoted Okplewu as saying “this is to notify you that the Cross River State Internal Revenue Service wishes to carry out Tax Audit of PAYE, Withholding Taxes, Levies and Fees due to the state”.
The exercise, he said, “is in pursuant of section 46(4) and 48(4) of the Personal Income Tax Act.Cap P8 LFN 2004 as well the relevant sections of the Cross River Revenue Administration Law 2015 as amended”.
According to him, “we hope that all necessary documents and arrangements shall be in place to accommodate the Audit team to expedite the audit. We also attach herewith the list of documents required for the exercise”.
He warned that “in the event of any obstruction to the exercise, submission of incorrect or false information /reports, or any other action that may delay this tax audit by your staff or your consultants, the directors shall be held liable and penalised in accordance with the statutory provision of sections n 94,95 and 96 of the Personal Income Tax Act ( as amended) 2011.
Before now, several companies, shops as well as others have shut down or relocated to other states.
In an interview, Mazi Bonny Nwaigwe, said “I am tired of this state. Look at what the government is doing, is it fair. There is no electricity, no good roads, no water yet the increase taxes as if there will be no tomorrow”.
He wondered what the state government is doing with the huge taxes it collects from people.
Nwaigwe regretted that “unlike other administrations, the governord had listening ears, but this one is busy traveling from one country to another while the people are suffering”.
Narrating her own story, a widow, Mrs Philomina Abasi Okon, said “it is very sad indeed that she had parked up her petty business due to taxes from the state government and local government. We don’t know who to cry for. It is just too unfortunate that government does not care for its own citizens”.
As a widow, she said “I can not come up with the too numerous taxes, hence I folded up and now I am in the house doing nothing”.
She blamed the state governor Senator Ben Ayade for been insensitive to the plight of those that voted him into power.
Said she, “we never had it soo tough and rough this way before. The governor should intervene as quickly as possible”.
The story is the same from Bakassi to Obanliku local government areas of the state. The people are disenchanted and dissatisfied with over taxation in the state.
This ugly development might not encourage investorsto invest in sttate, they argued.