The Federal Government has raked in N17 billion into its tax coffers barely three months to the expiration of the tax amnesty granted for the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme( VAIDS).
Another N6bn is expected for remittance before end of December, 2017.
The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service ( FIRS), Tunde Flower confirmed the figures yesterday in Abuja, just as he hinted that the tax agency has identified 2,000 properties in various parts of Federal Capital
Territory ( FCT) , Abuja whose owners neither pay taxes nor file returns on them.
Should the owners of 2,000 properties refuse paying due taxes on them, Fowler said FIRS will seek court’s approval to dispose of the properties ,noting that , after netting off taxes due on them ; the balance if any will be handed to their owners.
Fowler spoke on Thursday in Abuja, during question and answer session shortly after he flagged off VAIDS workshop for media practitioners.
The N17 billion raked from VAIDS, he said came from less than 500 firms, adding more funds will roll in days to come.
He said more firms are keen to seize window of opportunity offer by amnesty to regularize their tax status adding that they have engaged consultants who are asking questions for Clark frication.
“Less than 500 firms have paid N17bn and another N6bn is being expected to be paid before the end of December.”
“In terms of number, we have not gotten the type of crucial number we envisaged. When we gave tax amnesty , we have 2,700 companies that applied for it , now we are talking about several companies that have come under VAIDS.
A lot more needed to be done , Companies are asking questions, taking to consultant; we expect a whole lot more to come in as program gets to close”, he said.
He said the March 2018 deadline given to people, firms to regularise their tax defaults is sacrosanct and will not be shifted.
In his contributions, Mr. Albert Folorunsho( Managing Consultant, Pedabo Associate Limited), the Consultant driving VAIDS, dismissed insinuation that some people could head to court of law to cripple its implementation.
Shedding more lights on the status of churches, mosques and other houses of worship, if they are susceptible to taxes, the VAIDS consultant said church and mosque are exempted from taxes.
He said, “any church or mosque that engages in business, the income from business is liable to tax. If a clergy man earns income in his capacity as clergy man, either from the church or other sources, as an individual you are liable to tax. No exception in tax laws for clergy men. This is not for churches or mosques to begin to pay tax on their tithe or offerings. But if a religion organizations set up schools for business, it has to pay tax on it.”
On property tax, he explained that,”When property begins to generate income, whether own by individual or company, the owner will be required to pay tax on the income on the property. Rent is a taxable income,” he said.
VAIDS is a time – limited opportunity for tax payers to regularize their tax status relating to previous tax period. In exchange for fully and honestly declaring previously undisclosed assets and income, tax payers will benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties, and the assurance that they will not face criminal prosecution for tax offences or be subject to tax investigation. VAIDS ushers in an opportunity to increase the nation’s general tax awareness and compliance.
Mathew Dadiya, Abuja