•Extends VAIDS deadline to June 30
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned Nigerians to stop hiding monies meant to develop the country in foreign countries, in a bid to avoid paying tax.
“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country and for Nigeria to attain her true potential, these must stop.
“For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world. Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself,” the president, who is in London, the United Kingdom, admonished in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday.
Also, the president overruled the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which had earlier foreclosed any extension beyond the March 31, 2018, deadline for the enforcement of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
He approved the extension of VAIDS to June 30, but with a warning that there would be no further extension after the new date.
The presidential spokesman said in a statement that the extension was based on the appeals of professional bodies and individual taxpayers.
He said a fresh Executive Order will be made to give legal backing to the new timeline.
“For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world. Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself,” he said.
Buhari urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularise.”
He added that the right thing may not be convenient or comfortable, “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of.”
President Buhari further urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who fail to regularise their tax status.
VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to reposition the Nigerian economy and correct inherited underdevelopment.
President Buhari had last year launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the VAIDS tax amnesty is first in the series of reforms that will transform Nigeria’s tax system and provide sustainable predictable funding for all tiers of government.
The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, had in December disclosed that the tax amnesty granted by the Federal Government under VAIDS raked in N17 billion between June and December 2017.