… As JTB, VAIDS, FIRS share data on high income earners
The Joint Tax Board (JTB) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) have started sharing data of high net worth individuals to profile income earners and taxpayers in order to get them pay appropriate taxes.
To fast track this process about 12 states have signed the Memorandum of Understanding under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
The JTB also announced it has engaged a consultant to ensure that the databases of the state tax authorities and the FIRS are speaking to each other.
The integration of data will help in data sharing amongst states, improve compliance and tax revenue.
Executive Chairman of FIRS and JTB, Mr. Tunde Fowler, announced the MoU with states on VAIDS in Abuja during the 138th meeting of the JTB.
He said the integration of data amongst states between FIRS and JTB would help to identify high net-worth individuals, track their tax status and compliance. He announced that there are no untouchables as regards the implementation of VAIDS
Fowler said that the Federal Government has demonstrated an uncommon political will to entrench tax compliance in Nigeria, saying issues of taxation are taking a centre stage in the country.
“Speaking on behalf of the FIRS and the JTB, I want to assure you that we have received the blessing and political will of Mr. President, the Acting President to implement VAIDS.
“The Executive is behind us, the Senate, the House of Reps, are behind us and the Judiciary is behind us. The government is behind us. It is now left for us to perform our duties in the right and best way.
“A lot of special things are happening to the country. We are changing the financial profile of the country and of course, taxation is in the forefront. I can’t recall any time in the past when we had had such integration and cooperation.
Our vision is to ensure that the governments, at all levels have enough resources to provide essential facilities to everyone. We are also moving away from taxes based solely on oil—that are not predictable to non-oil taxes”.
‘I am Happy to announce that at no time in the history of the FIRS have states and JTB have enjoyed this level of collaboration that we are enjoying today. Collaboration is important. States cannot be said to be doing well if the FIRS is not doing well. In the same vein, FIRS cannot be said to be doing well if states are not doing well.
“Between 25th and 29th September 2017, the African Tax Administration Forum, ATAF will be meeting in Abuja. Leaders of tax authorities will be in attendance. Many will come with their ministers. We believe that collaboration between heads of tax authorities and Ministers of Finance is healthy for tax work. We will encourage them to come.”
“In the same vein, we expect that all of you (Chairmen of State Internal Revenue Services) will be in attendance and at least one other person—possibly your commissioner of Finance.
At the enlarged meeting of the JTB, convened mainly to discuss stakeholders’ implementation of VAIDS, the body ratified the election Chief Oseni Elamah, former Chairman of Edo State Board of Internal Revenue, as the new Executive Secretary of JTB.
Mr. Elamah takes over from Mr. Mohammed Lawal Abubakar, a Director with the FIRS, who has led the JTB Secretariat for seven years.
Fowler thanked the JTB members for their activities on the Tax Thursday and further urged them to put more efforts in observing the weekly tax education programme.
“I thank all State Chairmen of State Boards of Internal Revenue for their activities on Tax Thursday. The Acting President is in forefront of this. I am happy to see the efforts of the JTB and I can only ask that you keep it up. I am happy to see that our cooperation is improving and it will continue to do so”, Fowler said.
Professor Abiola Sanni, of the Law Faculty, University of Lagos, also congratulated the Federal Government and the FIRS for the Tax Thursday initiative, which he said, is a very bold step.
“That we have tax amnesty in Nigeria today is because there is leadership at the government level and the FIRS. I was thinking that I would not be possible. But there is unprecedented political will to get this in place. VAIDS is a bold step and I commend the idea of Tax Thursday. If we continue to do something about it, tax education will take a leap and will be less costly.
Successful tax amnesty is a journey, it is not a dash,” Sani said in his paper titled, ‘VAIDS: The Role of Stakeholders’.
Taiwo, Oyedele, partner of the Price Waterhouse Coopers, in his presentation, also lauded the FIRS and JTB for seeking to integrate data for the purpose of tax collection, stating that ‘when you approach a taxpayer with data, he will comply’.
Abubakar, the outgoing JTB Secretary, thanked the JTB for the opportunity to serve the nation. He enjoined Elamah the incoming JTB Secretary to come on board with innovation and be more creative with value adding ideas.
Elamah, a former Chairman of the Edo State Board of Internal Revenue Service and a former Special Adviser to former Head of State: Gen Abdulsalami AbdulSalami (rtd)- promised to do his best to take JTB to greater heights.