By Lola Omowaye
Ondo State Government has granted amnesty rates on Land Use Charges (LUC) over the past years to all properties across the state, as all is set for the flag-off of the implementation of the law.
To this end, Land Use Charges would be paid for year 2017/2018 accordingly at amnesty rate for residential, industrial and commercial properties.
Chairman, Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), Mr Tolu Adegbie disclosed this to The Hope in a chat at his office in Alagbaka, Akure, the state capital.
He said the charges for the two years of amnesty were classified according to areas, the low income areas (residential) is expected to pay a sum of one thousand naira per house for one year, medium value zone (residential) pays five thousand naira per house for a year and urban/high value area pays ten thousand naira per house for one year among others.
Adegbie enumerated that each house was valued by members of Estate valuers not the Board and billed according to the value.
He encouraged the people of the state to cooperate with government officials by paying their LUC promptly.
According to him : ‘The Land Use Charge Act in Ondo State was enacted in April 2014 by the past administration and has been in existence since then. The law provides a collapse of the tenement rate and other charges that are paid on periodic bases, usually a year, into one. The Federal government states that the Local Government should collect the tenement rate and state government the Land charge. So you have people coming from state and local government to collect charges. What the LUC does is to harmonise the two. One party would come to you, that is from the state ( from Board of Internal Revenue) then give the Local Government its portion, that is the whole idea. It makes the collection of these charges easier for the people and easy harmonisation of the tax for the state.’
While stating whose responsibility it is to pay LUC, he said it is the duty of the property owner to pay but in the absence of the owner, the Board of Internal Revenue may appoint any person including the tenant/ occupier to pay on behalf of the owner and such payment should be payable from any current or future rent/ money due or to become due from the tenant to the owner of the property.
‘The reason for this is simple. If you are a tenant in a house and your landlord refuses to pay, the law states that we can come and lock up your house, and if this happens the person affected is the tenant living in the house. So the law says if the owner is not paying, you pay, have your receipt and with it remove the amount from the rent you would have paid to the owner of the house.’
Adegbie stressed that before any house receives its LUC, the Board would have delivered the Land Use Charge Notice to the owner or Occupier of the property for assessment, and in the absence of both the above to take delivery of the notice, it would be pasted on the property.
Stating how payment could be made for LUC, he said the government has made the payment convenient for people as payers could go to the banks and obtain deposit slips or use Quickteller or get the mobile app on their mobile phone for faster payment and avoid queueing in the banking hall.
He added that the location and type of structure determine the amount/rate to be charged on a real property, stating that after the assessment, the owner is expected to pay within thirty calendar days and if the owner or Occupier fails to pay within the specified time, the charges payable should be increased by a certain percentage.
While stating the offences under the law in relation to LUC, the BIR boss said:’any person who refuses or neglect to comply with, or prevents, hinders or obstruct any property identification officer in the course of his lawful duty, or removes from property identification plaque on any property shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than fifty thousand naira only in a case of an individual and two hundred thousand naira only in a case of a corporate body or to a term of imprisonment for a period of three months or both.’