Rivers Govt to Jail Tax Evaders from 2019

By Dipo Olowookere

Those in the habit of evading tax in Rivers State have been warned to desist from such because from 2019, they will not escape prison term.

Chairman of the Rivers State Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Mr Adoage Norteh, who gave this warning, said the state government will no longer condone such act from next year.

Mr Norteh boasted that with the new system put in place by his agency, it would be very difficult for anybody or company to evade tax again in the state.

He said that the state would no longer be involved in tax auditing in the field, adding that no company would be able to file its annual returns without paying its tax up to date.

While addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt last Thursday, the taxman said under the new Rivers State Tax Management Information System also known as RIVTAMIS, nobody or firm would be able to dodge paying tax, emphasising that defaulting firms and individual would be discovered.

He said apart from closing all loopholes, which some tax payers take advantage of to evade tax, the newly introduced RIVTAMIS would make tax payment less stressful to individuals and companies.

Explaining that the RIRS was working towards making tax practice in the state a reference point from next year, he added that the new system had improved the tax compliance level of businessmen and other taxpayers.

Mr Norteh pointed out that the RIRS would soon embark on an extensive advertisement to sensitise members of the public to what the state internal revenue service was planning to do in January 2019.

“From January 2019, it will be very difficult for individuals and companies to evade tax. I don’t think that by next year, people will dodge tax under my watch. I cannot say that all will pay, but a large number of people will pay,” Mr Norteh said.

He said further that, “Those who eventually evade tax would risk going to prison because we will prosecute them. We have taken a lot of people to court. Time has come when we will begin to send people to prison for tax evasion. When we begin to send people to prison, they will understand what we are talking about.”

“Even as we speak, there is a person who may start his life from January in prison because of tax issues. We don’t want to ambush taxpayers and that is why we have put a system that will make things easier for them (taxpayers),” the tax chief said.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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