The Lagos State Government on Wednesday said it had extended the period for tax payers to enjoy discount of 15 per cent on Land Use Charge (LUC) demand notices for 2018 to April 14.
The State Commissioner for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade, said at a news conference in Lagos that this was applicable to payments made within 15 days of receipt of demand notice.
The Law, which was reviewed by the Lagos State House of Assembly and signed into Law by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Feb. 8 was a merger of all Property and Land Based Rates and Charges in the state.
Ashade said that various reliefs had been made available to payers, including a general 40 per cent relief for all property liable to LUC payment.
According to him, 10 per cent relief for owners and occupiers with persons with disabilities, as well as for owners and occupiers of 70 years and above.
He said that there was 10 per cent relief for properties above 25 years, five per cent relief for property occupied by their owners for over 12 years.
The commissioner said that there was also 20 per cent relief for non-revenue generating Federal and State Government property, and 20 per cent partial relief for non-profit making organisations.
Ashade said that for applicants to enjoy any of these reliefs, they must make claims with evidence for approval to the ministry.
“The ministry has engaged professional services of over 100 registered estate surveyors and valuers, who in the next six months, will visit various property to get accurate data for valuation.
“This will be used as the basis for billing for another five years.
“The owners and occupiers are expected to provide the officials with valid documents to help with the valuation.
“The LUC 2018 has been reviewed to enable self-assessment, which means property owners can now make their own calculation and know their rate with the help of professional valuers,” he said.
Ashade said that the new Law also established an Assessment Appeal Tribunal which was authorised to adopt the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in resolving disputes concerning LUC demand notice, provided the appeal was lodged within 30 days after the receipt of the notice.
“Should any property owner be unsure of his or her LUC bill or assessment, we implore such persons to visit any of our help desks in all the local government areas or the ministry.
“We are ready to talk, attend to you and clarify issues on individual basis as tax is a personal affair,” he said.
Ashade, however, said that the amount payable was expected to be made from Jan.1 of every year and could be calculated by multiplying the Market Value of that property by the applicable relief rate and annual charge rate.
“Upon receiving a notice or not, the new law has made it possible for owners to calculate their charge and enable prompt payment.
“For people saying the use of Market Value should not be the basis for deriving the LUC rate, we ask, what better application should be used?
“The cost of building houses varies according to area, so each property needs to be valued according to its location, in order to achieve a standardised rate for everyone that is progressive and rational.
“It is instructive to note that, according to the law, the incidence of payment is on the landlord and not the tenant,” the commissioner said.
He said that the state government had made available some exemptions, which meant that after some years of paying LUC, some residents might fall under the category of property owners who do not need to pay LUC anymore.
The commissioner said that this exemption applied to pensioners of 60 years and above who were owners and occupiers of the property.
Ashade listed other property exempted to include, property used for public and religious activities, properties used as registered educational institutes and charitable activities.
Others are public cemeteries and burial ground and all palaces of recognised traditional rulers in the state.
Ashade explained that there was an urgent need for the repeal, as the old law had not been reviewed for over 15 years, since 2001.
“Under the old law, the LUC rate was totally inaccurate and retrogressive which deprived the state of keeping track of all economic activities that relates to land in the state,’’ he said.
Responding to fears of tenants that the new Law might force landlords to increase rent, Ashade said that the Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011 was still in force.
He explained that the incidence of payment for Land Use Charge under the new law was on the landlord and not the tenant.
He said that the minimum rate was only increased from N1, 200 it was in 2001 to N5, 000.