Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government on Wednesday, disclosed it raked in over N30 billion from the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), a tax amnesty programme that ends on June 30.
The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, who made the disclosure in Abuja at the official presentation of VAIDS Certificate of Declaration to Chairmen of States’ Tax Revenue Authority, said the figure recovered thus far came from both individuals and corporate establishments.
According to him, VAIDS has also helped to increase the number of taxpayers from 14 million in 2016 to 19 million today. He added that the amount raked in through VAIDS was N3 billion higher than the N27 billion hitherto recovered a few months ago.
Fowler revealed that while FIRS was responsible for collection of 90 per cent of the amount, the states were responsible for the remaining 10 per cent.
He reminded members of Joint Tax Board (JTB) that the supreme objective of VAIDS was beyond generating revenue for the government but ensuring more taxpayers are brought into the tax net.
He said, “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 taxpayer 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 GDP ratio when the official percentage for 2017 is released,” Fowler said.
He said some states have achieved significant progress in the scheme compliance, adding that was why Executive 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 utilising 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 unto the front burner.
“The international community recognised the need to present a united front against this trend, which is a limiting factor in the quest towards exploiting the inherent potential of tax as a viable alternative to sustainable revenue generation, especially for developing and emerging economies,” said the FIRS boss.
He admonished state revenue chairmen to constantly engage in enlightening taxpayers about voluntary tax compliance as a way of building a friendlier tax environment.
“As part of activities lined up to ensure increased awareness on the scheme in particular and tax compliance in general, staff of JTB Secretariat, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance will take part in every tax Thursday sensitisation exercise in the states until the end of the scheme commencing from June 14, 2018. It may also interest us to know that the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee is proposing a national tax day, a special day, which is to be set aside every year for awareness and sensitisation on tax related matters,” he said.
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 regularise their tax statuses under VAIDS.
The scheme, initially billed to end March this year, was granted three months extension by the President, Muhammadu Buhari. The new deadline comes to a close on June 30, 2018.