Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The federal government disclosed Wednesday that proceeds from the tax amnesty – Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) – had risen to about N30 billion, less than three weeks to the end of the programme.
The figure, however, falls short of the revenue target of $1 billion (N305 billion) that the federal government had expected to make from the tax amnesty programme when it was introduced last year.
Speaking on the performance of the scheme, the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Tunde Fowler, also confirmed that a greater impact of the scheme was the five million addition to the tax database from 14 million to 19 million.
VAIDS, originally meant to last between July 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018, offers taxpayers a grace period to regularise their tax status.
On the expiration of the initial nine months window on March 31, VAIDS was granted a three-month extension by President Muhammadu Buhari to June 30 as the new deadline.
Speaking in Abuja while declaring open the presentation of VAIDS certificates of declaration to the chairmen of the state tax revenue authorities, Fowler said the N30 billion raked in so far came from both individual and corporate establishments.
Giving further insight, he stated that while the FIRS was responsible for the collection of 90 per cent of the sum, the states accounted for 10 per cent of the collection.
Fowler told members of the Joint Tax Board (JTB) that the beauty of VAIDS transcended the financial gains but rather its potential of expanding the tax net.
“Looking beyond the financial returns of the scheme, the impact it has had in promoting voluntary compliance is unquantifiable. One of the outcomes of the scheme, whether directly or indirectly, is the growth of the national taxpayer database from under 14 million pre-2016 to over 19 million in 2018, and we are confident that these numbers will translate into positive growth in the country tax revenue-to-GDP ratio when the official percentage for 2017 is released,” he said.
According to him, some states had achieved significant progress in VAIDS compliance, adding that this informed the invitation of the executive chairmen of the revenue authorities of such states.
He said: “We believe that this aspect of the workshop will facilitate the exchange of ideas which we are confident will assist all of us in utilising the remaining period that is provided by the scheme.
“VAIDS goes beyond just taking advantage of immediate gains. In recent times, the incidence of illicit financial flows, aggressive tax avoidance and outright tax evasion are on the front burner.
“The international community, recognising the need to present a united front against this trend, which is a limiting factor in the quest towards exploiting the inherent potential of taxation as a viable alternative to sustainable revenue generation, especially for developing and emerging economies, has designed and is implementing a number of initiatives that will leave no hiding place for the tax evader.”
Fowler urged the state revenue chairmen to constantly engage in enlightening taxpayers about voluntary tax compliance as a way of developing a friendlier tax environment.
“As part of activities lined up to ensure increased awareness on the scheme in particular and tax compliance in general, staff of the JTB secretariat in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance will, from June 14, 2018, take part in the tax sensitisation exercise every Thursday in the states until the end of the scheme.
“It may also interest us to know that the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee is proposing a national tax day, a special day which is to be set aside every year for awareness and sensitisation on tax-related matters,” he said.
Fowler stated that the VAIDS tax certificates presented to states were not the same as tax clearance certificates, saying one cannot replace the other.