Business Hilights
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Does FIRS’s no-hiding-place for tax evaders include Fulani herdsmen?

Several development analysts have started looking at the real economic values of Fulani herdsmen to the economy when their havocs to the stability of the polity are put on the front burner.

Tax experts who spoke to our correspondent on this said time has come to carefully situate the economic importance of the herders, vide their contributions to the government revenue basket vis-à-vis their distractions and destructions when compared with other businesses.

Only recently, the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, in Kano, said there was no hiding place for tax evaders, who had refused to seize the opportunity provided by the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to pay appropriate taxes.

But tax experts are worried on how to place Fulani herdsmen and their cattle as they are moving from one place to another without a particular state of residence so that they can be profiled for purposes of taxation.

According to Mr. Tunde Ojo, a lagos based Tax consultant, “In fact many of us are yet to rightly place the herdsmen in the right perspective of taxation”.

“For example, the herdsmen live in the bushes and can hardly be profiled as where you see them today may not be where they will be tomorrow.

Recall that the best bet in tax evasion is simple to be moving around from one state to another.

Ojo noted further that “The only format that can allow for the taxation of Fulani herdsmen is when the business is reformed into ranches. That is why ranching is the best and modern way of running the business.

He said “the best bet for the federal government is to intensify efforts at implementing cattle ranching than the crude practice of open grazing which cannot allow for proper profiling that can enable right taxation.

He said as far as herdsmen continue to move from one state to another, the federal government and even states government will continue to lose both in taxation and associated crisis.

Business Hilights recalls that in Fowlers keynote address at a training workshop for professionals advising clients on participation in the VAIDS in Kano, he described the scheme as a tax amnesty programme, which taxpayers were expected to take advantage of.

He added that government has given opportunities to defaulters to voluntarily come forward to regularise their tax status in consideration of certain incentives given by the government.

Fowler stated that the VAID was targeted at every taxpayer, who had unlawfully underpaid or not paying by any means, adding that the scheme would run till March 31, 2018.

According to him, during the period, it will provide opportunities for taxpayers to regularise their status relating to previous tax periods by honestly declaring previously undisclosed assets and incomes.

While in Kano the FIRS boss was silent on how to get Fulani herdsmen into the government’s tax net even as they continue to wreak havocs across their transit routes.

At the last count, Taraba State has cordoned off Fulani herdsmen transit routes in the state following the coming on stream of Anti-Open Grazing Law this week. Earlier Benue and Ekiti States have implemented the circumstance-driven State Edit.

Since this year, over 150 Nigerian villagers mainly farmers have been killed while hundreds have been displaced due to the marauding Fulani herdsmen across the states.

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