By Abdulwaheed Usamah,
The Federal Government has recovered N17 billion through Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which it newly introduced, the scheme of which was designed to cub tax avoidance and other sharp practices
Through it tax agent, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the government was able to to record the figure reported between July and November after the scheme was introduced.
The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, disclosed that N17 billion was voluntarily paid by various companies through VAIDS, an amnesty programme inaugurated by the government for taxpayers to regularize tax status relating to previous tax periods.
Speaking at a media workshop on VAIDS on Wednesday in Lagos, Fowler added that initiative has bee making progress as additional six billion naira was expected to be paid by some corporate bodies before the end of 2017.
To him, Nigerians need to embrace VAIDS in order to benefit from the forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties before its expiration on March 31, 2018, raising concern that, Nigeria’s tax Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio at just six per cent, was one of the lowest in the world when compared to India’s 16 per cent, Ghana’s 15.9 per cent and South Africa’s 27 per cent.
The tax agent boss explained that VAIDS was introduced to usher in an opportunity to increase the nation’s general tax awareness and compliance, just as he noted that the scheme was a time-limited opportunity for taxpayers to regularise their tax status in exchange for fully and honestly declaring previously undisclosed assets and income.
“Tax payers will benefit from the forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties,’’ he said.
On his part, the Managing Cousultant, Pedabo Professional Services, Albert Folorunsho, Nigerians should embrace the initiative while it last to regularise their tax status and that the initiative was put together by the Ministry of Finance to ensure tax compliance without regulation.
He said that VAIDS offers an opportunity for taxpayers to redress themselves before government wields its big stick at the end of the nine months amnesty programme and that it was introduced to act as immediate tax revenue to the government and to widen tax revenue.
The company’s head stated that VAIDS would help boost the level of compliance to tax revenue contribution to the GDP, just as he indicated that the nation’s tax revenue contribution to GDP, standing between 5.9 per cent and six per cent was low when compared to South Africa, China and India.
According to him, those countries have 56 per cent, 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively and government introduced the scheme to give Nigerians the opportunity to regularise tax status voluntarily within the period while the programme was on.
Folorunsho warned that that there would not be amnesty for late payment after the scheme had ended while enjoining people who front for others in businesses to transfer assets back to rightful owners.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Director, Tax Policy and Advisory Department, FIRS, Grabriel Ogunjemilusi, stated that the scheme was not new as some countries had used it in the past to generate more revenues for developmental purposes; and that Indonesia, one of the countries which had used the scheme was able to generate up to12 billion dollars in three different amnesty schemes.
According to him, 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.