Statistics from Anambra State Internal Revenue Service (AIRS) reveals that only about 7,150 traders in the State pay tax.
This is out of the estimated total of one million, two hundred persons trading across parts of the state.
The figures were made available to TNC correspondent in Awka in an exclusive interview with the Chairman, Anambra Internal Revenue Service, AIRS, David Nzekwu.
According to Nzekwu, the development is highly worrisome, considering the fact that the state prides itself as one of the most developed and civilized in the country.
He said the state government has simplified the process of tax collection through the automation of the systems, saying that with the figure on traders paying tax in the state, one wonders how the people expect the government to undertake its numerous responsibilities.
“I have always said it that tax is a civic responsibility which citizens owe the government. It is of great concern to us that despite all efforts at tax education and enlightenment, our people are yet to key into this very important responsibility that avails them the power to demand good governance from their leaders. It is quite unfortunate,” Nzekwu lamented.
The AIRS boss observed that a major cog in the wheel of effective tax administration in the state is the activities of fake revenue agents who harass and extort citizens.
He, however, noted that prompt payment of taxes using the approved channels by government, can help address the challenge of fake revenue touts, as there would be no need for them to come to the shops to collect any monies.
“We have observed that what our people part with when these fake revenue touts come to them, is way to higher than the actual amount they ought to have paid to the government. When we automated the payment systems, we had in mind to make it impossible for the touts to ply their trade within the state but it is appalling that citizens are not availing themselves this unique opportunity created by the government,” he said.
On the complaints of harassment and molestation by tax officers of his agency, the AIRS boss revealed that the tax collectors have been trained to conduct their operations within the ambits of human rights and the law.
He, however, said the agency will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute any of its officers found to have acted otherwise.
In his words, “The agency is committed to conducting its enforcement drive professionally but what we are preaching is that the citizens imbibe the habit of promptly paying their taxes and levies so that we may not get to the point of tax enforcement.”