Tension is mounting in Anambra State as traders in Awka face unexpected visits from the Anambra Internal Revenue Service (AIRS), encountering demands for immediate cash tax payments during on-the-spot shop assessments.
Accompanied by an intimidating entourage, AIRS officials are reported to be insisting on immediate tax payments, citing prior notification to the traders. In the bustling Aroma area of the state capital, some traders swiftly closed their shops upon the officials’ arrival. Others, caught unaware, were subjected to on-the-spot cash assessments for their shop contents.
Numerous traders expressed surprise, claiming they never received prior notification of the tax returns, contradicting assertions made by the enforcement team.
One trader, Angela, shared her experience when the enforcement team demanded an instant payment of N75,000, stating it was the assessed tax value for her shop. She contested this evaluation, expressing disbelief at the requested sum compared to her shop’s contents. Additionally, after pleading, she paid N35,000 in cash, receiving neither an account number for payment nor a receipt post-collection.
Furthermore, the traders raised concerns about the method of cash collection, as there had been prior warnings against such practices. They questioned whether the collected funds would be directed to the government’s treasury or diverted for personal gain by the enforcement team.
Angela’s receipt, marked “paid on enforcement,” lacked formal documentation, raising doubts among the traders about the legitimacy of the process.
The traders were served a ‘Court Prosecution Notice,’ signed by P.C. Oduche, Zonal Tax Head of Anambra Central. The notice cited the traders’ alleged failure to file annual tax returns as required by the Personal Income Tax Act 2021, threatening legal action under the specified sections of tax legislation if compliance was not met within seven days.
The situation has sparked uncertainty and apprehension among traders, raising questions about the transparency and legality of the on-the-spot tax collection procedures.