Private school owners in Oyo State under the aegis of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS) have decried the litancy of rates and taxes being charged by the Oyo State Government on private schools in the state.
The Oyo State President of NAPPS ,Mr. Kayode Adeyemi, revealed this to journalists in Ibadan.
Mr. Adeyemi, who said the school owners are tired of the charges,emphasized that even when private schools are on a lockdown the state government was still giving a demand notice to the proprietors who are contributing to the educational development of the state.
The Oyo State President of NAPPS said:”We pay various forms of taxes. The school itself pays renewal tax to the state government to the tune of about N130,000 for the college, N40,000 for primary and nursery alike. Apart from that, the proprietor of the school pays personal income tax to the government. The teachers of the school pay PAYE to the government and other sundry levies such as signage, mobile advert ,rates. The taxes and rates are for all private schools irrespective of the size.
“As it is now, with many of our operations shut down for about six months, we are already looking at it that we cannot pay anything this year. The half of the year is already wasted with COVID-19 lockdown. But the unfortunate thing is that the Oyo State government is still serving us demand notices even when we are under a lockdown. The government is even increasing the rate of taxes that we were paying and bringing taxes that we had not been paying before into the demand notice. I had said that we needed to resolve these. We are being asked to be paying for re-approval, renewal and all that which is about N130,000 per annum.
“The rates also include environmental tax which is N20,000 per annum. This is beyond the fact that we are already paying for business premises. Even education is not a business venture. The Company Income Tax law does not allow education to be taxed. But surreptitiously, the private schools are already paying tax on education. We are kicking against categorizing education as business which is supposed to be the primary function of government. The government must realize that private stakeholders are helping it to meet her responsibility in training the children.
“We had been paying a certain amount before but in the new harmonized demand notice now they have increased it upwards. What we are saying is – if we are paying for premises which is business premises without raising an eyebrow as much as we are trying to be very cooperative to the government, why should we pay for the environment again? For God’s sake, what is the difference between premises and environment?
“Apart from the environmental charge, they are even charging us another N20,000 or N30,000 annually for fire service. The issue now is that – if I’m paying tax as the proprietor of the school, my school is paying tax as an educational outfit, my staff members are paying tax, where are those taxes going? Am I the one that will be paying for fire service again?
“We should get our people trained on how to fight fire incidences in case it occurs. In the entire state now, there is no record of fire outbreak in any of our schools. But all I’m saying is that government just wants us to pay for any service. Despite the fact that we are paying our taxes, we are still paying for those services that the taxes need to be used for. That is what we are against. We are crying that those rates should be reviewed downwards. Nobody has listened to us now.
“We have had meetings with the Honourable Commissioner for Finance before they brought all these things. We have advised the Commissioner and Finance and Chairman of Board of Internal Revenue as an association to widen the tax net and bring in some other schools that have not been approved. But as it were, they are not doing that. They are just descending on few of us who have got our schools approved to meet what they think must come in as revenue for the state government. They leave thousands of other schools which did not get an approval to be operating freely. They just serve big schools in one street or the other the demand notice, requesting to collect the taxes and rates. Can you image asking a school that has been locked down for almost half a year to bring a demand notice of almost one million naira? Where does that school get the money? At a point we said we wanted to operate in the third term and do online classes but somebody was saying in the news that we did not have the right to collect money from the parents to pay our staff salaries. But those working with the government are being paid. We heard that when they resumed, the government still gave palliatives to all those public school teachers that are collecting salaries even during the COVID-19 lockdown. Yet, they did not deem it fit to give any palliative to private school teachers that did not get any salary whatsoever. If the government wants education to do well in Oyo State, something has to be done so that schools that are dying grasping for breath would be salvaged”.