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Working on Apps to drive increase in voluntary tax compliance belated—Expert

An ICT consultant and leading App developer, Mr. Chinedu Ugboaja has faulted the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun for putting the cart before the horse in her crusade to grow tax compliance amongst Nigerians.

The Minister had on Monday said the Federal Government would rely heavily on technology to increase tax compliance under the recently launched Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme.

According to Ugboaja, “the federal government would have first developed the App, test it and confirm its superiority even before going ahead to launch the VAIDS so that immediately they are recruited, they will begin training on the use of the Apps”.

“Employing somebody before creating the jobs he or she is going to do is misplacement of priorities.

“What we had expected to see is the launch of the Tax Compliance App before the recruitment of the workers,” Ugboaja argued and queried what will happen to the VAIDS officers should the Ministry fail to get the tailored App for their jobs?

Business Hilights recalls that the VAIDS was launched last week by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to provide tax defaulters with a nine-month amnesty period within which to settle their tax liabilities without having to pay interest, penalties or face prosecution.

In a statement signed by the Director of Information in the ministry, Salisu Dambatta, the minister observed that at six per cent, Nigeria’s tax to Gross Domestic Product ratio was very low compared to other countries that had as much as 32 per cent.

Adeosun argued that “Prosperous nations have high levels of tax compliance, whilst poor nations have low rates. Nigeria aspires to be a prosperous nation, so this problem must be solved”.

“Technology has been key in enabling us to build an accurate financial profile for Nigerians and based on the information we gathered, we saw that the level of non-compliance was very high and we knew we had to do something about it.

“In the past, tracking true income and assets would have been difficult but now, it is at the touch of a button.”

She added that the government would be getting more information about taxpayers from next year under the Automatic Exchange of Information, to which Nigeria is a party.

Continuing, she noted that “What VAIDS is doing is giving taxpayers, both companies and individuals, a window of opportunity to regularise, to come clean so to speak, to declare fully and to declare honestly.

“In exchange for full and honest declaration, what we are assuring is that we will waive penalties that should have been levied and waive the interest that should have been paid on overdue tax, which is quite considerable; those who declare honestly will not be subject to any investigation or tax audit.”

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