I read with concern today; June 18, 2022, in your medium; Oyoinsight that business owners were lamenting incursion of illegal tax consultants in their businesses in Oyo State. Then I thought of enlightening the public so that such businesses or their organizations can sue the tax consultants and or the State government for redress.
Since 2019 when Governor Seyi Makinde resumes as the Oyo State governor, diversion of public revenue through unorthodox channels has taken toll on the State. Apart from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria invalidating any strange authority or entity from collecting levies and taxes due to the government, Courts have affirmed same in many cases including landmark judgement of February 2021 in Oyo State which held that it is illegal for Park Management System; a creation of Governor Seyi Makinde to enrich his political thugs led by Alhaji Mukaila Lamidi a.k.a Auxilliary to be collecting taxes due to the government or control parks in the State. Nonetheless, being embodiment of illegality and oppression, Governor Seyi Makinde who did not appeal the judgment has refused to comply with the laws of the land which he wants others to comply with forgetting that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.
Reading the plights of taxpayers in Oyo State under the current administration where illegal tax consultants have taken over the legal responsibilities of the State government is worrisome.For clarity sake, Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Collection) Act No.2 of 1998 provides in Section (1) that “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, asamended, or in any other enactment or law, the Federal Government, State Government and local government shall be responsible for collecting the taxes and levies listed in Part I, Part II and Part III of the Schedule to this Act, respectively”.The Act continues in Section 2 when it says “(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, or in any other enactment or law, no person, other than the appropriate tax authority, shall assess or collect, on behalf of the Government, any tax or levy listed in the Schedule to this Act, and members of the Nigeria Police Force shall only be used in accordance with the provisions of the tax laws. (2) No person, including a tax authority, shall mount a road block in any part of the Federation for the purpose of collecting any tax or levy”. The Act provides further thus in Section “3. A person who—(a) collects or levies any tax or levy; or (b) mounts a road block or causes a road block to be mounted for the purpose of collecting any tax or levy, in contravention of section 2 of this Act, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N50,000 or imprisonment for three years or to both such fine and imprisonment”.
Meanwhile, Personal Income Tax (Amendment) Act 2011 Part XII Section 102 defines tax collector as “(1) For the purpose of this Part of this Act, a tax collector means a duly authorised official of the State Service or the Federal Board of Inland Revenue. (2) The production by a tax collector of a certificate or warrant- (a) issued by, and having printed thereon the official name of the relevant tax authority; (b) setting out his full name or names; and (c) stating that he is, or is authorised to exercise the functions of a tax collector, shall be sufficient evidence that the tax collector is duly authorised for the purposes of this Act.” Invariably, no relevant tax authority has power to outsource revenue collection but only assessment and audit and channels of remittance such as REMITA. This shows that only the staff members of the various Internal Revenue Services, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Local Government Revenue Committee have legal backing to collect taxes on behalf of government. Therefore, all unions and companies orconsultants purportedly acting on behalf of some states and local government to collect taxes and levies are illegal and unconstitutional.
Similarly, according to the National Tax Policy document, tax authorities shall ensure that their functions are discharged in an efficient and effective manner, without the deployment of violence. The tax policy also states that authorities shall ensure that core tax functions, such as assessment and collection of taxes, are only carried out by career tax administrators who are public servants and not by ad-hoc consultants or agents
Therefore, businesses in Oyo State or elsewhere being exploited by illegal tax consultants should sue such consultants for trespass and let the government come and defend them in court. As a tax practitioner specializing in tax laws and accountability, it is abnormal to use wrong approach for normal things. The civil servants should be made to be pro-active while tax consultants can be engaged for guidance on how to achieve accelerated revenue generation and not usurpation of government roles.
Luqman Soliu is a Tax Consultant and a Phd Student of Accounting with Special Interest in Taxation he can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org