The Enugu government yesterday launched an offensive against tax defaulters in the state.
The chairman of the Board of Internal Revenue, Emeka Odo, who announced the move, said it was necessary to provide basic amenities to the people.
He disclosed that the enforcement team had sealed off five hotels, a bank and four federal institutions, with a debt profile of N6.6 billion from 2011 to 2016.
Odo added that the debts owed by other institutions were being worked out, in what promises to be an aggressive recovery process.
The action began yesterday as early as 6.30 a.m. following an order by Enugu High Court to seal off the premises of the organisations.
At each location of the affected hotels, guests were given the grace of one hour to vacate their rooms before sealing the premises.
The chairman explained that the agency had written several letters to the hotels, urging them to settle their debts, which they ignored, until it secured the court order.
He listed the sealed hotels to include Toscana, Allens Suit, Nondon, Hotel Cordial and Filbon, which, he said owes the state over N3million naira in tax.
He said: “This is still an ongoing operation. A lot of other hotels would be sealed off. We don’t want to jeopardise the action by disclosing those other hotels that would also be closed.
“The operation is not limited to hotels, as we are also moving against some federal agencies. Our preference is for voluntary tax compliance, whereby the debtors would be given tax assessments to comply with. Unfortunately, a lot of people still treat tax matters with levity.”
Odo stressed that tax defaulters could not continue to enjoy the infrastructure provided through the taxes paid by other individuals and organisations.
He explained that some banks that were sealed off early this year for failure to pay withholding taxes had paid up.
The chairman added that the state has generated about N18 billion as internally generated revenue in the last 10 months, adding that it was a marked improvement from the N14 billion that was realised last year.