By Codratus Godson
The Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS) has Some 100 carefully selected taxpaying companies in Rivers State have been assembled in Port Harcourt and commended and given certificates which contain their tax identification numbers generated in the state.
At a brief ceremony at the Hotel Presidential in Port Harcourt, the 100 companies including Shell, Belemaoil, Eroton E & P, First Bank, and the others, were said to have behaved responsibly in tax payment matters especially self-compliance.
Announcing the names of the best tax-behaved companies, the executive chairman of the Rivers Internal Revenue Service (RIRS), Chief Adoage Norteh, said it was about paying the highest amounts of taxes (PAYEE) but also in doing what is right at the right time. He said the companies did not wait for the Revenue Board men to come chasing them around but that those worthy companies came forward to do what is right.
He said the selection process did not reject companies that have disputes with the RIRS, saying dispute was part of tax compliance because if resolved, the disputing firms would pay up.
He said the meeting was in the first of series of thank you meetings to be held with best taxpayers and it may culminate in a dinner where certificates of appreciation may be issued.
Chief Norteh said: “Paying tax is not easy. I am a taxpayer too, in fact, I see myself more as a taxpayer than a tax administrator. If many people had their way, they would not pay tax, but paying tax is a fact of law.”
He commended tax compliance and payment saying taxpayers are seen in Rivers State as development partners not as enemies. “At least, none of you is planning to overthrow the government.”
The RIRS boss went on: “We have reduced the tensions associated with tax collection. Some persons may have been affected by the changes introduced but it is for the good of the system. Voluntary compliance is our dream and our goal. This is reflected in the tone of letters of demand notice sent to taxpayers. We no longer use violent language and threats but calm reminders that touch only on the sections of the law backing up the demands and appeals for positive response.”
He warned that the certificates being issued were not tax clearance certificates but document to show that the named company has complied by registering in RivTAMIS to obtain RivTIN (Rivers Tax Identification Number).
Chief Norteh enumerated the numerous benefits inherent in RivTIN, saying it is different from the TIN issued by the federal government and that it makes a registered person to have localized benefits even as such persons also got the benefits of the national TIN.
The RIRS boss encouraged those not complying to do so and note that tax is compulsory, evading it would be nightmarish.
During the interactive session, many consultants asked questions and got clarifications. The RIRS boss confirmed a demand notice on Road Tax, saying the 1999 constitution gave states the right to collect Road Tax.
He said some conflicts could be resolved in the coming days.