The Cross River State Internal Revenue Service says at least 700,000 Cross Riverians are not paying taxes.
This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman of CRIRS, Mr. Akpanke Ogar while briefing journalists in Calabar about its activities and tax drive in the past seven months.
He said efforts were being made to capture more people into the tax net to shore up the revenue base of the state which currently stands at N1.5 billion on the average, monthly.
According to him, sensitization and enlightenment campaign of the tax-paying public to secure their buy-in for voluntary tax compliance in the state so that the percentage of tax payers will move from the current 8 per cent to 30 per cent at the end of the campaign, adding that 100 tax liaison officers have also been engaged to boost revenue drive, while a task force has also been set up to arrest illegal tax collectors who are hooligans who pose as staff of the agency.
He said before he took over as boss of the agency, the agency generated between N700 million and N1 billion monthly.
Ogar attributed the improved revenue to various measures being taken to bring more tax payers into the tax net and the engagement of “100 community tax liaison officers, Cross Riverians who were trained, posted to the state by the federal ministry of finance as part of the voluntary asset and income declaration scheme as ad hoc staff of the service.”
Other measures that had led to the improvement of revenue generation, the IRS boss said, include deepening collaboration and partnership both within the state and across the country, tax payer education and public enlightenment through the launching of a website with several media platforms, automation of records, processes and service delivery as well as enhancement of data management system.
“With funding from the World Bank, an enlightenment programme is ongoing in the state,” he said adding that more funding from the World Bank would be needed to review Cross River State Revenue Laws, assisting IRS to design develop and implement a performance measurement and evaluation system as well as procurement, customization and installation of an electronic taxpayer database management system.
He condemned the harassment of people who posed as staff of the agency, adding that “we have been arresting people illegally collecting tax from business owners.”
He urged tax payers not to bribe IRS officials in order not to short-change the government.