Thursday, August 18, 2011

All First Bank Plc braches shut down by Edo State Govt.

Banking activities were crippled, on Wednesday, at the branches of FirstBank of Nigeria Plc in Benin City following their closure by the authorities
of the Edo State Board of Internal Revenue (ESBIR) for alleged tax evasion.

The bank’s branches were sealed off by the revenue board over alleged failure to remit to the state government Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes deducted from their staff.

But the chairman of the ESBIR, Mr Oseni Elamah, told journalists  on Wednesday that the state government did not shut any bank, but was merely enforcing the provisions of the law in respect of non-remittance of taxes.

Elamah said an audit account carried out on the banks showed that PAYE taxes deducted from staff had not been remitted to the state government, just as he said that there was no response to demand notice issued to the bank on the subject matter.

He did not disclose the amount the bank allegedly failed to remit to the state government, but said the bank had not remitted the PAYE taxes which had accumulated over some years.

Elamah said the state government needed funds to provide infrastructure for the people and pay the new national minimum wage and that the board had so far stabilised its internally generated revenue at N1.3 billion monthly, but added that the present tax drive was to also shore up revenue.

“This is not the first time the board is embarking on tax enforcement. This is not the first time a bank or any other organisation has been shut down if you like. But we are just enforcing the law. We want to ensure that they remit PAYE taxes that are long overdue.

“Tax is about law. Once a law is made, it is not negotiable. This is personal income tax and the obligation is on the employer to deduct the tax appropriately and remit to the ESBIR. The enforcement is not selective. We have Tax Assessment Review Committee,” Elamah said.

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