Contrary to reports, chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has said that there was no case of multiple taxation in the country. Fowler spoke to State House correspondents after a session with the Federal Executive Council (FEC). He also disclosed that the Council had ratified the automatic exchange of information with other countries.
According to him, those who refused to take advantage of the grace given by the Voluntary Assets Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) policy, which expired at the end of last month, would be made to pay their taxes alongside the required penalties.
On complaints on multiple taxation, Fowler said, “Let me say once again that we do not really have a situation of multiple taxation. You only have multiple taxation when you pay the same tax to different tiers of government.
“What we have found out is that a lot of people categorise any payment to government as a tax. For example if you receive fine, a penalty they call it a tax. If you pay for the parking space, they call it a tax. Those are the things you refer to as user charges and not taxes.”
On why he appeared before FEC, he said, “I was here today to attend the meeting with the minister of finance to ratify the automatic exchange of information. Basically what this means is that Nigeria as a country exchange financial information with other member countries which hopefully should improve our revenues and also ensure that all Nigerians that do have investments or businesses or incomes abroad will pay their taxes as and when due.”
On update on VAIDS, he said , “The update is that it expired June 30, and anyone who has not come forth by now we shall use all the legal means to make sure that we bring them to book and make sure that they pay the appropriate tax with interests and penalties.”
Asked how the people responded to the VAIDS policy, Fowler said, “Well the response has been very good. We are collating all the figures both at the federal levels and the states levels and I believe that by the middle of July, we should be able to tell the nation the exact progress in terms of the numbers that have declared, amount that have been paid and amount that is going to be paid instalmentally.”
On what the government was doing to encourage the people to pay their taxes voluntarily, he said, “The federal government has through the ministry of information and also through the office of the vice president have been talking about the different projects that have been financed with tax revenues and I think as Nigerians begin to see those dividends of democracy, very good spending, people will be more encouraged to pay more taxes.”
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