Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mr. Babatunde Fowler has disclosed that the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) has yielded over N18billion ($50 million) in revenue since its launch four months ago.
Fowler made the disclosure yesterday while speaking at a peer leaning event on internally generated revenue (IGR) and how to achieve effective tax administration, organised by the World Bank and Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum (NGF) in Abuja.
Fowler also advised taxpayers not to take VAIDS for granted, cautioning that the amnesty period granted by the federal government to companies and individuals that had evaded tax would end by March 2018.
â€œI am glad to note that a lot of enquires have been made both at the state and federal level.
â€œAt the federal level over $50 million have been realised through this scheme today.
â€œI will like also to use this opportunity to call on the general public to give total support to the tax authorities and revenue agencies to enable us efficiently discharge our duties by collecting the needed revenue to fund government projects and services.
â€œTo address the challenges we have discussed, the government has proposed to access and obtain information from all categories of taxpayers through VAIDS.
â€œUnder this scheme, all taxpayers who are in default of payment will be required to voluntarily declare their income before March 31, 2018.
â€œWe hope from this month on, all states will be complaint with the remittance of VAT and withholding tax as and when due. This will not only increase IGR at the state level but will also increase IGR at the federal level,â€ he said.
Fowler further revealed that a staggering 165 million of Nigerians were defaulting in tax payments to the federal government.
He said that from available records, the total number of individual taxpayers across the country still falls below 15 million, with majority of individuals in the private sector, including self-employed persons, professionals and high net worth individuals defaulting in the payment of taxes which they are liable to pay.
â€œIt is in order to stem these challenges that prompted government to propose having access to information on all categories of taxpayers through the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), whereby taxpayers who are in default of tax payments will be required to voluntarily declare their assets and income within a time frame,â€ Fowler explained.
He also stressed that Nigeria will be better off and more jobs created and economic activities promoted if more revenue was generated at the state and federal levels.
According to him, the revenue target in the next two to three years is similar to the target at the national level, which is to fund the national budget through taxes, which currently accounts for 65 per cent of non-oil revenue.
The Director General of NGF, Asishana Okauru in his remarks at the event, said the forum had resolved to replicate the reforms that led to the 20 per cent growth in IGR in 23 states of the federation in 2016 in the remaining 13 states that witnessed a contraction in IGR generation.
In this regard, Okauru said the NGF would provide technical assistance to the states next year by expanding support in other areas of public financial management.
The recession, notwithstanding, 23 states grew their IGR from N687 billion in 2015 to N821 billion in 2016.
He attributed the outcomes to significant improvements in technology in the remittance systems evolved by the states, updates of rates and charges and the institutionalization of state revenue boards.
â€œFor instance, Kaduna developed state-level MDA laws, focusing on the autonomy of the board of internal revenue, Kano strengthened MDA operations and streamlined rates and charges. Also, Cross River reviewed its tax policy to promote voluntary compliance, while there is a real time dashboard in Benue that monitors the flow of remittances. These are commendable practices and we already seeing the results,â€ he said.