LOCAL GOVERNMENTS’ LEGAL COMPETENCE TO COLLECT TELEVISION LICENSE FEES
In a federal system of government, the tax which each tier of government can levy on legal persons are clearly spelt out by the Constitution and tax legislations to avoid conflict situations, unhealthy rivalry between the levels of government and to prevent double taxation. The tax structure in Nigeria as stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) (“the Constitution”) classifies the spheres of taxing powers among the levels of government in Nigeria.
FUNCTION OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL TO COLLECT RADIO AND TELEVISION TAX
The main functions of Local Government Councils are provided for in the 4th Schedule to the Constitution. Item 1(b) of the 4th Schedule to the Constitution provides that it shall be the function of the Local Government Councils to:
- Collect taxes, radio and television levies.
From the foregoing, it is evident that the Constitution vests Local Government Councils with power to collect radio and television levies.
In the same light, the Lagos State Local Government Levies (Approved Collection) Law, 2010 prescribes the levies that may be collected by Local Government Councils/ Local Government Councils Development Authorities (LGA/LCDA) in Lagos State and the LGAs/LCDAs are empowered to collect radio and television license fees (excluding radio and television in motor vehicles, transmitters and other communication equipment).1
LIABILITY OF DEFAULTERS, DIRECTORS, MANAGERS OR EMPLOYEES
Section 12 of the Lagos State Local Government Levies (Approved Collection) Law, 2010 provides that:
- Any person who fails to pay a levy due to the LGA under this or any other Law commits an offence and shall, in addition to any penalty stipulated in any other relevant law or byelaw, be liable to pay a sum equal to 2 times the amount for which he is in default.
- Where an offence has been committed under this Law by an incorporated or unincorporated organization, every director, manager or other employee of the organization who is responsible for the default also commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000.00) or six (6) months imprisonment or both.
Radio and television license fee is an annual levy/license fee assessable and collectable by local governments across Nigeria from any business or individual that owns or controls any radio or television instrument or any item of similar kind. Accordingly, LGAs and LCDAs in Lagos State are empowered by the Constitution and the Lagos State Local Government Levies (Approved Collection) Law, 2010 to collect television license fees within their respective local governments.
This paper was authored by Abiodun Ogunbameru who carries on his legal practice at the Law Firm of Femi Atoyebi & Co.