The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has commenced the process of forfeiture of undeveloped commercial plots in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Daily Trust has leant.
In a notice recently pasted on undeveloped plots in the capital city, the revenue service warned owners of such plots to report immediately to the service or risk forfeiture.
FIRS pasted the notices in most of the undeveloped plots in the FCT. Source at the inland revenue said the process will soon be nationwide, starting with Abuja and Lagos.
Already, the deadline of September 30, 2017 given to the owners of such plots to report to the chairman of the FIRS has expired recording very low compliance, a source said.
The warning, signed by Tunde Fowler, Executive Chairman, read; “Notice of Non-Compliance: Records show that this piece of land has been allocated to a commercial entity that is non-tax compliant with regards to the ‘Companies Income Tax Laws of Nigeria.
“You are hereby requested to visit the office of the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Revenue House, 20, Sokode Crescent, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja or call 09070320481.
“Please note that forfeiture of this piece of land may occur if you fail to report to the Federal Inland Revenue Service immediately; or before September 30th, 2017.”
When contacted, the spokesperson of the FIRS, Mr Wahab Gbadamosi, acknowledged the notice, adding that it’s backed by law, even though he declined further comments.
In a reaction, former President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Mr Ayodele Adigun, said he is aware of such directives by the FIRS.
He said, although it is important for government to increase tax collections in order to close the revenue gap, however, in doing so, the FIRS should exercise caution.
He said there are many procedures to make people pay taxes and there are many ways of making people to voluntarily declare assets. But going to that extent, it was a big embarrassment for tax payers. It is not the best option,” he said.
He urged the service to apply some level of maturity in tax collection.
On his part, an estate developer and chairman, Urban Shelter Limited, Malam Ibrahim Aliyu, believed that it is not a bad idea to collect tax on such commercial land that is not put to use by the owners if such land is located in an area where government had already provided infrastructure.
He said when infrastructure is put in place in the location where such land is, it means that it is totally ready for development and the owners really ought not to have any excuse for not developing it.
However, if the land is not developed, in other words, if the FCDA has not put any infrastructure on it, it’s unfair to charge additional taxation after paying the normal fees by the owners. “I think that distinction is important,” he said.
Another developer who prepared anonymity said there is serious confusion among the developers right now about the policy as the FIRS skipped some undeveloped commercial plots with the notice within the city center while harassing others.
According to him, FIRS or FCDA should treat everyone equal and ensure that they did their parts by providing the needed infrastructure on the land before collecting taxes.
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