No plan to tax churches, Rivers revenue agency insists

The Rivers State Internal Revenue Service has dismissed claims in some quarters that the state government is planning to tax churches. The Chairman, RIRS, Adoage Norteh, told journalists in Port Harcourt on Thursday that the government had never contemplated collecting taxes from churches.

Norteh explained that though he was of the view that workers, who earn monthly salaries from various churches, should pay income taxes, this did not amount to asking churches to pay tax. He explained that by law, churches and mosques were not expected to pay taxes since they were recognised religious organisations. Norteh said, “There are claims in some quarters that the Rivers State Government wants to tax churches. Such claims are erroneous. The Rivers State Government is concerned about the state of our national economy and in its tax policies, it has decided to reduce the tax burden. “The state government is also concerned about the burden of individuals. On Tuesday, I met with the executive of the state Christian Association of Nigeria on this subject. “We are aware that churches, by the law setting them up, are not for profit and to that extent, they are not to be taxed. So, nobody is going to ask the church to be taxed. “All I said was that church workers, who earn incomes, are like other workers anywhere and should pay taxes.” He maintained that the payment of tax had nothing to do with politics or religion, adding that until the law on tax was amended, those qualified to pay were expected to discharge their obligations. “As a policy, the Rivers State Government does not target anybody or group. Tax has nothing to do with politics or religion. Many don’t like to pay tax, but the law says pay tax. Until that law is amended, we are expected to pay tax,” Norteh stressed. On the move to tax the informal sector, the RIRS chairman explained that the agency had not commenced the implementation of the decision, adding that consultation was still going on with stakeholders.


Source: Punch