The Oyo state government has clarified its position on the controversy surrounding the imposition of taxes and levies on places of worship by the last administration in the state.
Newspeakonline recalls that the last administration under former Governor Abiola Ajimobi had in November 2018, introduced security taxes for churches, mosques and other places of worship in the state, explaining that the levies were to support the state security trust fund.
But speaking at the weekend, Rev. Idowu Ogedengbe, executive assistant to Governor Seyi Makinde, said places of worship are exempted from the payment of levies and taxes .
Ogedengbe made the clarification at the thanksgiving mass to celebrate the 70th birthday of the Catholic Archbishop of Ibadan Archdiocese, Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin held at the Church of Ascension, Bodija, Ibadan on Saturday.
He explained that while the places of worship themselves are exempted from taxes. their profit making ventures which include schools, universities, hospitals, bakeries, and other businesses, are mandated to pay taxes to the government.
He urged the church to encourage its members to pay their personal taxes regularly stressing again that while the church is exempted from paying taxes, its members are not.
He said: “As Christians, the scripture says that we should submit to the law of the land. They should pay their tributes. So Christians are meant to pay their tributes, tax to the government because its what we have to support government to do what they have to do to tackle insecurity, provide good road network, education, agriculture and all of other amenities .
“Not necessarily the church but the members of the church. They are citizens, and all citizens should pay their taxes. So, individuals that constitute the church and the mosque must pay their taxes. At the end of the day people come to church, mosque and they give their tithes, offering and most of those people have already paid their taxes and if they have paid their taxes, it will be more or less double incidence of taxation if you now begin to tax the church or mosque as a body.
“As long as the people who constitute the church, mosque are paying tax, the church, mosque are exempted. We want to encourage the church, mosque to be more disposed to supporting their spiritual involvement in terms of providing support for the less privileged, providing humanitarian services and all those things which churches and mosques are meant to be doing. So. instead of giving the money as a whole to government, churches and mosques should have a plan of action towards supporting the needy, supporting the under privileged in the society. Some churches and mosques that have schools, they should try to reduce the school fees, and whatever they are charging is more or less close to what government is charging.
“As long as churches and mosques are participating and partaking in the responsibility of government and alleviating the responsibility of the government through providing of education, provision of healthcare, and other humanitarian services then let the churches and mosques be, because for the government to be charging them again, that will be double taxation.
The governor’s aide added that churches and mosques that run universities, bakeries, water factories, and other income generating and profit making business and services must pay tax on such businesses since they make profits.
In his remarks, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Most Rev. Augustine Akubueze who led about 50 Archbishops across the country to the event described the celebrant as a man who has dedicated his life to the church and wished him many more years of service to the Lord.
Dignitaries present at the event include the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi represented by Oba Fayemi Olumayowa the Ekerefe of Erefe of Ife, members of Olubadan Advisory Council including High Chief Eddy Oyewole and many others.