BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has declared that there will be no extension of the March 2018 deadline for individuals and companies to comply with Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAID).
This comes amidst calls by concerned stakeholders for the extension of the set deadline of granting tax amnesty to defaulters.
Fowler, who said the federal government was seemingly overwhelmed by the huge number of tax defaulters to prosecute, noted that extending the date would not make individuals and corporate organisations bent on not honouring the June 2017 directive comply.
Then acting president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, had while inaugurating the FIRS-initiated VAID, given nine-month grace to defaulting taxpayers to regularise their tax status or face criminal prosecution for tax evasion.
“This programme will not be extended. It is the federal government’s initiative. It was adopted by the Senate, the House of Representatives,” he remarked yesterday at a one-day seminar for tax professionals.
“I think people who have an intention to do the right thing, even if you give them six months, they will perform within six months, three or four months. But for individuals and corporate organisations that have no intention to do the right thing, even if you give them 10 years, they will not conform within that period.”
Fowler’s statement was a response to the president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Mr. Cyril Ede, who had requested the federal government to extend the March deadline to September 2018 to enable more taxpayers to comply with the directive.
According to Mr Ede, “There is need for government to consider extending this programme, if need be, to allow for more individuals and corporate entities to comply. We, as an institute, are asking that the deadline of March 2018 be shifted to September 2018.”
He cited the case of South Africa between 2015 and 2016 which, he said, had a better tax compliance than Nigeria but still gave 11 months as grace period for compliance to tax amnesty.
However, the FIRS boss urged the participants who thronged NICON Luxury Hotel, venue of the event, to advise their clients that even if they declared their assets, it does not mean they have to make payment on the same day.
“They are still given time for them to prepare themselves. There are certain issues that would be discussed. There are possibilities of extending the payment plan subject to the approval of the taxing authority – whether it is federal or the state. There are also different ways that you can cushion the effect of these payments. And we have to realise and remember that you only pay tax on profits of income,” he explained.