By Our Correspondent
There is tension in Anambra State as officials of the state Internal Revenue Service, AIRS, move from shop to shop in Awka, forcing the traders to pay taxes on the spot in cash.
Accompanied by fierce- looking young men, the officials claimed that notices had earlier been sent to all the traders.
At the popular Aroma area of the state capital, some of the business operators hurriedly closed their shops, while those who were caught unawares, were forced to pay cash based on the on- the-spot assessment of the contents of the shop.
Many traders said they were never notified of the tax returns as claimed by the enforcement team.
A petty trader, who gave her name as Angela, said she was surprised when the enforcement team swooped on her salesgirl and demanded evidence of her annual tax returns.
She said: “They came and started looking around and after a while, told me that I should pay N75000 instantly as that is the amount of tax my shop is worth. Look at what I have on this shop, does it worth paying tax of the amount?
” They did not provide account number in which to pay the money, neither did they issue me receipt after collecting N35000 from me after my pleading.
” They later dropped a notice which ought to have been sent earlier, but wasn’t sent.”
She said that she has been paying levies demanded by the state government for operating the shop, adding that she was surprised that they called this one annual tax returns.
According to her, there had been warnings that on no account should people pay cash in the name of tax and wondered if the money the enforcement team was collecting would actually go to government coffers, or end up in private pockets.
A notice which was served on her as receipt after collecting cash had a handwritten statement that read “paid on enforcement” .
The document titled, ‘Court Prosecution Notice’ which was signed by P.C. Oduche, Zonal Tax Head, Anambra Central read: “We write to inform you of your failure to file your annual tax returns as required by Section 41(3) of the Personal Income Tax Act2021(as amended) within 90 days from the commencement of every year assessment and to honour the notice of invitation and the best of judgment assessment already served on you.
“Take note that Anambra State Internal Revenue Service shall institute legal proceedings against you after seven days of service of this notice pursuant to Section 94 of Personal Income Tax Act and Section 69 of Anambra State Revenue Administration Law, 2010.
” Take further notice that the outstanding tax liabilities for which you are to be prosecuted is N. …. for – years.”
By Our Correspondent