By OLUSHOLA BELLO, BUKOLA IDOWU, KAYODE TOKEDE, Lagos
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler has said federal government tax defaulters have until March 2018 to declare assets and income via the Voluntary Assets and Income declaration Scheme (VAIDS) or face the consequence.
Fowler speaking at the media workshop programme in Lagos, recently, said the scheme would change financial profile of Nigeria as more income and declaration of assets will aid government spending in economic development.
He said the scheme was a change needed for a commonwealth of every Nigerians, stressing that individuals and corporate companies have started making amendment to the VAIDS.
According to him, federal government believed that Nigerians will be truthful in their assets and income declaration, stressing that the tax collector agency is ready to assist in documentation.
He called on Nigerians to embrace VAIDS in order to benefit from the forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties before its expiration on March 31, 2018.
The Managing Consultant, Pedabo Professional Services, Mr. Albert Folorunsho at the workshop said the scheme was part of federal minister of finance to grow tax contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Folorunsho speaking on ‘Tax amnesty programme in Action’ said VAIDS is an amnesty programme that redresses tax declaration in Nigeria.
He said Nigeria tax GDP ratio is about six percent, one of the lowest in the world, when compared to India that has 16 per cent, Ghana, 15.9 per cent and South Africa, 27 per cent.
He explained that Nigeria’s tax compliance has been very low compared to developed countries that have increased tax contribution to their GDP.
According to him, the federal government amnesty on tax payment was driven based on database on corporations and individuals that have defaulted in paying taxes.
He noted that through the Biometric Verification Number (BVN), the government knows tax defaulters and are expected to take actions once the March, 2018 deadline expires.
In his words, “the FIRS has information on corporate accounts holders and individuals that are not remitting tax. Tax payers in Nigeria are given nine months amnesty and they are expected to comply before March 2018.
“Interest will not be charged for late payment of previous years taxes. There is no new tax law but a scheme that will enforce compliances. VAIDS is just a plea for defaulters to come forward and declare their assets and income.
“It is something that should be embraced by all tax payers. It is expected that tax payers declare its taxpayers in the last six years because VAIDS has to do with previous years,” he said
According to him, individuals are to pay their state of residence, while corporate, FIRS.
Also speaking, Deputy Director, Tax Policy and Advisory Department, FIRS, Mr Grabriel Ogunjemilusi, said that the scheme was not new as some countries had used it in the past to generate more revenues for developmental purposes.
He said Indonesia, one of the countries which had used the scheme was able to generate up to$12 billion in three different amnesty schemes.
He said that South African government also used the scheme to broaden the citizens’ compliance culture and the tax payers’ base.
The deputy director said that the country, being a member of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and the nation’s compliance to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) would help to reduce tax evasion.