Bayelsa shuts NDDC office over N336m tax debt

TAX

The Bayelsa State Government yesterday intensifies efforts at increasing its Internal Generated Revenue (IGR), as the state Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) shut the Yenagoa office of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) over unremitted taxes to the state.

This is coming few days after the enforcement team of the Board sealed the premises of a Chinese firm, Hilong Oil Servicing and Engineering Company (HOSEC) at Elebele, as part of the aggressive drive to increase revenue.

Yesterday’s sealing of NNDC office by the enforcement team of the Board, led by Robert Lokoson, was a result of NDDC’s failure to remit Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and withholding taxes since 2014.

Having obtained the necessary court orders, the Board enforcement team yesterday, together with the court Bailiff, assisted by security agents, stormed the office of the agency located at Mbiama-Yenagoa road in the state capital and sealed it after chasing the few workers out.

A State High Court of Bayelsa, presided over by Justice G. Omukoto, granted the applicant (the Board) the leave to restrain the properties and premises of the interventionist agency over unpaid taxes.

The court stated: “Leave be and is hereby granted the applicant and warrant of distress issued to restrain the properties and premises of the respondent for the purpose of securing the recovery of unpaid taxes under the Personal Income Tax Act in the sum of N336, 171, 230: 53.”

Speaking with journalist after locking up the gate to the offices of the agency, Director of Compliance, Robert Lokoson, explained that it was part of efforts to recover tax liabilities from non-complying organisations.

He said after getting the warrant from the court, following repeated pleas to the agency failed to yield any efforts, the Board had no choice but to lock up the offices.

He added that it was rather painful that these monies owed the state government were taxes the agency had already deducted from its staff salaries and contractors, which form the PAYE and withholding taxes.

Lokoson said they decided to take the action after exhausting all avenues to get the NDDC to comply, after the management did not respond to a series of letters written.

“After 14 days and no response from them, we will go back to the court to substitute a case. This is to show them the seriousness of government in recovering this money.

“The state government needs money to finance it projects and if a company is owing this much, we have to do everything possible to recover this money. It will help in funding one project or the other,” he stated.

He said the action would send a clear message to other companies owing the state government, adding that the Board would not hesitate to evoke the law on tax defaulters in the state.

Though no management staff of NDDC was on hand to speak with journalists, some of the workers chased out of the premises were seen discussing in low tones, wondering why the agency refused to pay the state government what it had already deducted from their salaries.

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