The Federal Inland Revenue Service has raided some hotels and offices in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, including Meglams Hotels owned by former Governor of the state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha over alleged tax default.
The agency, Tuesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital sent warning signals to tax defaulters as they began a raid of organizations, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and other public places that refused to pay their annual tax or fail to remit taxes collected by them on behalf of the Federal Government.
Apart from Meglams Hotels, the FIRS team with adequate police cover, also raided Katsina Pink Hotel, Osiri Hotels, De Giants supermarkets, Rebated Suites, Marvels Lodge, Bolex Car Wash, Prosco Car Care, among others in an operation carried out on Tuesday evening.
The FIRS said the hotels, eateries, and supermarkets raided had either refused to pay their annual tax or failed to remit to the Federal Government, the Value Added Tax they collect on its behalf. During the operation, the agency also arrested seven of the offenders.
Speaking to journalists on the reason for the exercise, Tax Controller, Mr. Patrick Iroro, said the agency was going after recalcitrant tax payers, who had not only refused to make returns of their annual tradings but had also refused to remit the money they collected on behalf of the government.
He said, “Well, this is one of the resources government depends on for revenue and we have a lot of recalcitrant tax payers. They do not only refuse to make returns of their annual tradings or the ones they collect on behalf of the government, they have refused to remit it.
“Like these hotels, they collect Value Added Tax for their services but instead of remitting the money monthly to government they refuse totally. We have written them several letters; we have visited them several times and so we have to ask head office to send us enforcement to help us collect these taxes.
“We have to enforce compliance. The money they are owing, we want to make them pay, and once they pay, they should start remitting regularly. It is then we will let them go.”
Iroro, who said the recent exercise was a warning shot to tax offenders, warned that any defaulters who refused to pay would be sanctioned in such a way that they would be made to pay double as punishment or they risk going to jail.