Barely two weeks after the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode signed the new Land Use Charge Law which was passed on January 28, 2018, by the State House of Assembly, to repeal and replace the Land Use Charge Law 2001. Payment of the new charge has commenced in earnest at the Opebi Branch of the Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, (GTB), Ikeja. The governor, kick-started the payment of the charge and collected his receipt.
Speaking at a brief ceremony attended by members of the Lagos State Executive Council, Managing Director of GTB, Segun Agbaje and top officials of the bank, Ambode urged all taxable Lagosians to pay their taxes to accelerate the development of the state.
According to him, “what we are doing is to back up our talk with our walk. The State Government cannot be promising prosperity in the future without investing in the future. I have just invested my quota by paying my Land Use Charge and I ask all residents/citizens to join me by courageously making a decision for prosperity and pay all their due taxes.
“Lagosians, with your full support, there is evidence that every kobo paid in taxes, has been productively utilized in infrastructural renewal and development of the State in the last two and a half years”, he added. He also ordered a stop to cash payment of all taxes in Lagos from March 1, 2018, urging residents to use the online platforms from all banks for their payments at their convenience, everyday, every time and weekends. He said: “In order to ensure that the Government improves on the quality of service delivery to our people, effective from 1st March 2018, no payments or taxes would be made by cash henceforth across the State.
“Tax payers should be able to pay all legitimate bills through all payment channels at their own time and convenience. The transaction process is now everyday, anytime and no weekends”, he said.
According to him, all manner of payments should be made through the mobile means without contact of any government officials. The governor, also advised the local councils to adjust their payment machinery to avoid leakages and taxable adults to be patriotic in this crusade.
“That Flyover or health centre is built from your contributions. The Facility provided is for everybody irrespective of tribe, religion or creed. Let us show the rest of Nigeria what it is to be a proud Lagosian. Perform your civic duties. It is the right thing to do”, he added. Speaking to the media on the charge, Divisional Head of Public Sector of the bank, Sherifat Dawodu said the bank was chosen for the kick off because of the bank’s performance as the highest collector of Lagos state taxes.
She assured residents of easier process of payment for Lagos state revenue and taxes at all GTBank branches.
The rates, include, withholding tax, Development levy, consent fees, survey fees, registration and conveyancing fees, ground rent, Capital gains tax, Stamp duties, Tax audit, Direct Assessment levy and Business premises. The new Land Use Charge Law changed the formula of calculating the charges, which is now based on ‘market’ or commercial value of land and improvements.
It also changed categories of properties exempted as private cemeteries are now to pay the Land Use Charge, while private libraries will still be exempt but only if they are certified to be non-profit making by the Commissioner of Finance for Lagos State. Under the new law, only properties owned by religious bodies and used as places of worship or for religious education are to be exempted. If such properties are leased out to private bodies for revenue generation, then the Land Use Charge will be levied on those properties.
There was also a change in persons liable to pay the charge. Now, occupiers holding long leases of 10 years and above are liable to pay the charge. Occupiers in unlawful occupation of property are also liable to pay the Charge. The number of tribunals has been reduced from 15 to 9 with the Tribunal having the power to allow for mediation of the assessment. There are conditions under which this is to be done. The mediation must resolve the dispute within 45 working days or earlier if the mediator declares an impasse. In such cases, the dispute will go back to the Tribunal.
Apart from that, there is an increased penalty for non-compliance. Penalty for non-compliance with provisions of the law has been increased to a maximum fine of N250, 000 from N100, 000, while the State can now either institute a civil action against the owner or seizure of the property. Meanwhile the State has announced 15 percent discount on Land Use Charge, just as Land Use Charge officials have commenced the distribution of the 2018 Land Use Charge Bill.
To avail themselves of this opportunity, the state government urged property owners in the State to pay within the first 15 days of receiving the Land Use Charge bill.
It further informed that payment can be made to the Lagos State Government Consolidated Revenue Account at any of the designated banks in the State using Web pay, Pay Point and USSD. It also enjoined citizens who do not receive their bills to visit the Ministry of Finance, Block 12, the Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja to collect their bills.