The Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler has revealed that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), a tax amnesty programme introduced to encourage defaulting tax payers regularize their tax records without recourse to the appropriate fines and interest, has raked in a total of N17 billion between August and end of November.
According to him, more Nigerians and corporate citizens who have utilized the amnesty window is set to bring in additional N6bn before the end of December to push total advantage to N23bn in six months.
The amnesty is expected to end in March 2018.
Explaining more during a one – day sensitization workshop for the Media on the VAIDS, Fowler said the remittances was made by less than 10 corporate entities, with part of the remittances made in hard currencies.
While regretting that no tax defaulter has been sent to jail, he was quick to agree that before now, tax avoidance and related ills have been handled with levity by those in government.
However, he made it clear that the tide has changed as on the expiration of the VAIDS amnesty programme by 31st of March 2018, prosecution and jailing of convicts will resume without any more form of amnesty.
According to him, “It is unfortunate that till date nobody has been jailed as a result of tax evasion, perhaps due to the fact that both the Federal and State Governments may have been getting a lot of revenue from crude oil resources. But as it is clear to everyone now, nobody can depend on oil again for the obvious reason of its declining fortunes. That is why this time, its clear that if we want to achieve sustainable development, we must return to the traditional form of revenue which is tax.
“That is why we introduced VAIDS which gives all tax payers the nine months amnesty window to allow them regularize their tax records for the past six years and enjoy the penalties and interest waivers to avoid the wrath of the post VAIDS regime which will insist on full compliance with the tax regulations on the penalties of tax evasion.
“Already, we have sealed over 2000 high brow properties in Abuja whose owners have not been paying taxes. We will take them to court and obtain the order to auction the properties and recover the owed taxes if their owners fail to pay up come post VAIDS era,’ the FIRS Executive Chairman sounded alarmingly.
Business Hilights gathered that more Nigerian companies, especially many of the written 500 firms who received letters from the Ministry of Finance on their tax statuses are making frantic efforts to avail the amnesty programme to escape possible prosecution come 2018.