The Tax Justice Platform, an NGO, on Wednesday called for total reversal of the controversial Lagos State Land Use Charge (LUC) to ease financial burdens of residents.
Abimbola Junaid, Lagos State Coordinator, Tax Justice Platform said the call was in line with stakeholders’ position during the March 27 public hearing at the State Assembly.
Tax Justice Platform aims at engaging the government in raising awareness on the need for a just, equitable and efficient tax system.
“As part of the global and national tax justice network, we demand a total reversal of LUC just like the stakeholders dictate,’’ she said.
Junaid said the government’s argument that it had not increased the LUC in 15 years was alarming and almost a `faux pas’ in economic principles.
“It proves that we have been operating on imaginary data and growth forecast as all is essential in influencing yearly budget consideration,’’ she said.
She urged the state House of Assembly and the state government to adopt the culture of vast consultation with multi stakeholders on cogent issues such as taxation.
Junaid advised that all household taxes, including land use and refuse charges, be collapsed into one single tax like municipal rates as done in other climes so as not to overburden people with multiple taxation.
“It is certainly a preferred choice by residents to go by a gradual increase, rather than a huge overnight increase and a threatened penalty as stipulated in the new law.
“We stand with the stakeholders to demand a total reversal of such outrageous charge,’’ she said.
The group called for continued citizen’s awareness and education campaign on all taxations.
Junaid also called for further citizens’ awareness on use of LUC assessment appeal tribunal to deal with objections within the 30 days window period.
“So also must the benefits and the relief conspicuously promoted to citizens to take full advantage of relieving them of excessive tax burdens.
“We recommend that the lawmakers as well as the government be fair and proactive in collecting taxes from all, including the elites in the state,’’ Junaid said.
According to her, a 2015 research conducted by the group on efficient tax complaints in the state revealed the absence of a systemic complaints system.
“It is therefore our further recommendation that the culture of effective tax complaints as well as feedback systems be put in place and issues promptly taken up.
“We also recommend a full state cooperation with civil society organisations (CSOs) in monitoring of impending complaints by tenants over sharp increases from their landlords as a result of the LUC review.
“The state must show zero tolerance and protect the rights of the citizens against such exploitation.
“Lagos State is a role model state, a mega city in the making and it should be so in systems and practices,’’ she said. (NAN)