The Federal Inland Revenue Service’s recent move to use value of property owned by companies to generate Company Income Tax (CIT) may have unsettled professionals in the built environment.
Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler recently confirmed that the agency has commenced the use of property value to determine what companies should pay as CIT.
He said: “We established over 2000 plus properties and lands, that were built, developed in corporate names limited liability companies that have not filed any taxes.
“The value of these taxes were in the excess of two trillion naira and have never paid any taxes before. We contacted them, sent them our assessments and a number of them are paying.
“Some of them claim not to own the property, those of them that claim not to own the property and of course their list was sent to government. Presidency is to decide what would happen to those properties that have no owners.
“To those that have owners and have not paid, they would be prosecuted. We are also in the process of going to court to get the approval of the court orders to sell those properties. We are not only doing that in Abuja. We’ve concluded in Lagos. We are currently doing it in Osun, Oyo, Kaduna and eventually we would cover the whole federation”.
The CIT is regulated by Companies Income Tax Act (CITA) Cap C21, laws of the Federation of Nigeria and income derived from the country by a non-resident company.
It is a payment on account of the year’s income tax assessment and taken at the rate of 30 per cent of total profit of a company.
However, due to heavy default by companies, FIRS has resorted to looking at property of companies who are not paying tax as a way of making them live up to their responsibilities.
But experts opinion vary on the issue, with some of them expressing worries that it will further stifle organisations, which are still managing to cope with difficult business environment in the country.
Former Chairman of Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON), Elder William Odudu, said it is wrong to use property as a basis for income tax.
According to him, if a company like First Bank Plc, which owns a building like its corporate headquarters in Lagos, is to pay tax on the value of its property that runs in billions of naira, it will kill the company.
This, he said, is because the bulk of the building is used for administrative purposes and not for rents.
He stressed that what FIRS should be looking for is the income generated by the property and not the asset, which is not generating income.
But an estate surveyor, Mr. Akin Olawore felt that there is nothing bad in such move as the main objective is to bring many people to the tax net.
According to him, companies are also required by law to declare their fixed assets in their accounts and are to identify if they are not existing and what they are doing with the property.
Olawore who is the President of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) said, there is no direct implications to the real estate as it is all about a way of bringing a lot of people to the tax net, since property is physical and cannot run away.
N69.4bn Debt: AMCON Seizes Properties, Freezes Accounts Of Jimoh Ibrahim
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken over 12 assets belonging to Chairman of Global Fleet Group, Jimoh Ibrahim, and frozen all his accounts over his debt which amounts to N69.4billion.
The seizure of the assets is pursuant to an order by Justice R.M. Aikawa of a Federal High Court, in Lagos.
AMCON on Wednesday took effective possession of all 12 properties through its Debt Recovery Agent – Pinheiro Legal Partners, which include the following: the building of NICON Investment Limited at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja; NICON Hotels Limited building at Plot 557, Port Harcourt Crescent, off Gimbiya Street, Abuja and the building of NICON Lekki Limited also at No. 5, Customs Street, Lagos.
Other properties include: The building of Abuja International Hotels Limited located at No. 3, Hospital Road, Lagos; another Property at Plot 242, Muhammadu Buhari Way, Abuja; the former Allied Bank Building on Mile 2, Oshodi Express Way, Apapa Road, Lagos; Energy House located on No. 94, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos; NICON Building at No. 40, Madeira Street, Maitama, Abuja; a Residential Apartment at Road 2, House A14, Victoria Garden City, Lagos; NICON Hotels Building at Plot 3, Road 3, Victoria Garden City, Lagos as well as the NICON Luxury Hotel’s Building, Garki I, FCT, Abuja.
In addition to the takeover of the listed properties, the court also ordered the freezing of all accounts belonging to Ibrahim and his companies, including Global Fleet Oil & Gas Limited and NICON Investment Limited all of who are defendants in the suit No. FHL/L/CL/776/2016 presided over by Justice Aikawa on Wednesday, November 4, 2020.
The court also granted AMCON possession over all shares belonging to the embattled Ibrahim and his two companies that are domiciled in Nigerian Re-Insurance Company Plc (NICON) Insurance Company Plc, Nigeria Stockbrokers Limited and NICON Trustees Limited.
AMCON’s Spokesman, Jude Nwauzor, said all the assets that are listed by the court and scattered around Abuja and Lagos had been successfully taken over by AMCON with the help of court bailiffs and officers and men of the Nigerian police as mandated by the court.
Land Use Charge: Stakeholders Call For More Property Valuation
Stakeholders in the real estate industry have said the Lagos State Government should increase the number of properties that have been valued under the amended Land Use Charge (LUC) Law, 2018.
They noted that this would take away the burden of paying high levies on properties by a few in the state.
The Deputy President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Mr Akintoye Adeoye, who applauded the recent amendment of the LUC law by the Lagos State House of Assembly, said the number of properties that were captured before the suspension of the process in 2018 was too small compared to the population of the state.
He said, “The percentage of properties that have been assessed is still less than 30 per cent. Rather than tax this number of people, it is better for the government to widen the net and bring more property owners onboard.
“It doesn’t make sense to tax just a few people, especially in a challenged economy like ours. We should bring in more people rather than increase the rate for a few.”
Adeoye said the state government’s decision to amend the LUC law would encourage more people to invest in property in Lagos State.
A six-man ad hoc committee, chaired by Rotimi Olowo, recently presented the report of its findings from a public hearing to the House of Assembly revealing that the review of the LUC lawwas generally perceived to be arbitrary and unrealistic.
During the presentation, Olowo was quoted to have said the Section 1(2), “Pensioner” should be redefined to include all retirees resident in the state from federal and state institutions and from both private and corporate organisations domiciled in the state.
He said it was agreed by participants and stakeholders during the public hearing that vacant plots of land and unoccupied properties should be exempted from the LUC liabilities and a proper classification of commercial and residential property in the state should be done for the purpose of levying.
Among other amendment is the Section 17(c) (i) stating that there is no need for 50 per cent payment by aggrieved owners over disputed charges before their eligibility to appeal, while aggrieved residents and property owners should pay the preceding year’s charges when the disputed charges are being resolved.
Akintoye noted that the resolve to amend parts of the law especially the aspect covering pensioners was a welcome development.
He said, “Before now, it used to be only Lagos State retirees but it has been extended to others across the federation.
“Lagos market is Nigeria’s market and people from all over the world invest in the state where many of them also retire. It doesn’t make sense to have that dichotomy in the treatment of pensioners.”
The President, Nigerian Institute of Building, Mr Kunle Awobodu, stated that to make the newly amended law achieve its objectives, there should be modalities for implementation to prevent fraud and false claims.
“I am in agreement with the amendment. The only thing I am sceptical about is how those from the private sector will be identified. It is difficult but it can be done. It is difficult to have an accurate record of pensioners from the private sector. But there should be modalities for implementation,” he added.
A former President, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers, Mr Bode Adediji, said even though the details of the amendment had not been made public, its assent by the governor and implementation should be looked into for the benefit of Lagos residents and investors.
Housing Deficit: LASG Completes 360 Homes In Ikorodu
Lagos State Government said it has completed construction of 360 additional housing units for commissioning soon as part of its efforts to tackle the challenge of housing deficit in the state.
The state Commissioner for Housing, Mr. Moruf Akinderu–Fatai, disclosed this recently, while conducting a validation and inspection visit to Lagos Homes, Lagshom Igbogbo Scheme 2B, in Ikorodu Local Government area of the state.
“Lagos is adding 360 more homes to the existing stock of homes in the state in the next few weeks,” Fatai said.
According to him, the state government has resolved to complete all housing schemes that were set aside by the previous administration in order to speedily bring succour to residents by increasing the availability of decent accommodation for the increasing population of the state.
“Reducing the housing deficit and bringing more people on the home ownership ladder through provision of affordable and quality homes are tasks that are germane to building a 21st century economy.
“Hence, the administration of Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu is frontally pursuing the goals of completing all the on-going housing schemes to ensure that befitting and decent accommodation is available to the ever increasing population of the state,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Wasiu Akewusola, who also affirmed that over 360 families would soon move to their homes, expressed satisfaction with the on–going works at the site and encouraged the contractors to keep up with the good job in order to deliver at the targeted date.
He disclosed that in year 2020, not less than 3,500 homes in Sangotedo, Idale in Badagry, Odo Onasa/Ayandelu, Ibeshe, Egan-Igando and Ajara would be completed from both government owned schemes and joint ventures.
The LagsHom Igbogbo Housing Estate is made up of 30 blocks of buildings with 120 units each of three-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and one- bedroom, making a total of 360 units of family homes.
In addition, the scheme which commenced in 2012 has a central sewage treatment plant, water treatment plant, high quality road network, and Street lights.
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