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With less than three weeks to the expiration of Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) compliance deadline, nearly N30 billion has been raked in from the tax amnesty scheme, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, has said.
The scheme, FIRS boss further confirmed, yesterday has bolstered tax data base from 14 million to 19 million.
The amount raked through VAIDS is N3 billion higher than previous N27 billion recovered few months ago.
Speaking in Abuja while declaring open the official presentation of VAIDS certificate of declaration to chairmen of states’ tax revenue authority, Fowler said the N30 billion recovered thus far came from both individuals and corporate establishments.
He said while FIRS was responsible for collection of 90% of the amount, the states were responsible for 10% collection balance.
Fowler urged tax defaulters who are yet to take advantage of VAIDS amnesty window, to do so before the June 30, 2018 deadline.
He reiterated that at the expiration of the amnesty period, any individual or company that failed to take advantage of the programme, risks jail term, adding that tax evasion was a criminal offence in Nigeria.
“As at date, the scheme has recovered nearly N30 billion, both from individuals and corporate establishments.
“While the FIRS has collected about 90 per cent of the figure, the states have been responsible for collecting 10 per cent,” the FIRS boss said.
Fowler reminded members of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) that the beauty of VAIDS is beyond financial gain attraction, but its potential of expanding the tax net.
“Looking beyond the financial returns of the scheme, the impact it has had in promoting voluntary compliance is unquantifiable. One of the outcomes of the scheme, whether directly or indirectly is the growth of the national taxpayers’ database from under 14 million pre 2016 number to over 19 million in 2018. And we are confident that these numbers will translate into a positive growth in the country’s tax revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio when the official percentage for 2017 have been released,” Fowler said.
He said some states have achieved significant progress in the scheme’s compliance, adding that was why chairmen of revenue of such states were invited to share their experiences.
“We believe that this aspect of the workshop will facilitate the exchange of ideas which we are confident will assist all of us in utilizing the remaining period that is provided by the scheme. VAIDS goes beyond just taking advantage of immediate gains. In recent time, the incidence of illicit financial flows, aggressive tax avoidance and outright tax evasion have come into the front burner.
“The international community recognized the need to present a united front against this trend, which is a limiting factor in the quest towards exploiting the inherent potentials of tax as a viable alternative to sustainable revenue generation, especially for developing and emerging economies, have designed and is implementing a number of initiatives that will leave no hiding place for the tax evader,” said FIRS Chairman.
He admonished state revenue chairmen to constantly engage in enlightening taxpayers about voluntary tax compliance as a way of building a friendlier tax environment.
Fowler said VAIDS tax certificate presented to states is not the same with tax clearance certificate, saying one can’t replace the other.
The Federal Government, on July 1, 2017, granted taxpayers a nine-month grace period to regularize their tax statuses under VAIDS.
The scheme, initially billed to end March this year, was granted three-month extension by President Muhammadu Buhari. The new deadline comes to a close June 30, 2018.
In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties that should have been levied and also waive the interest that should have been paid on overdue taxes.
Also, those who declare honestly will not be subjected to any investigation or tax audit after the grace period.
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