Special Adviser to the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Abiodun Aina, has urged tax defaulters to take advantage of the recently introduced Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration (VAIDS) to enjoy 29 per cent waiver on overdue taxes.
VAIDS programme was recently launched to reduce tax payers’ liability and create more awareness on the statutory requirement of every working citizen to pay tax.
Aina made the call on Sunday during an interview with newsmen in Abuja.
Usually tax offenders when caught are liable to pay their tax plus 10 per cent of the total amount as penalty fee and 19 per cent as interest making a total of 29 per cent.
But if they take advantage of the VAIDS programme, they stand to save 29 per cent on interest and penalty on taxes they owe.
The VAIDS programme offers a lot of benefit to tax offenders.They will no longer pay interest, they will not pay penalty, they will no longer be investigated and they will not be subjected to regular audit. They will also not face criminal prosecution.
When you fail to pay taxes, you are liable to criminal prosecution because it’s a criminal offence. But with VAIDS, you won’t be prosecuted for those criminal offences,” he said.
Aina said that the VAIDS Secretariat had begun to receive people coming to voluntarily pay their taxes.
He, however, could not say how many people have already come forward, in the month since the programme was launched by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
On the sustainability of the programme, Aina urged people to take the Federal government’s intention seriously.
This is not business as usual. Government will not forget about it. One important thing we need to bring to the attention of Nigerians is that come January 2018, we have already signed agreement for automatic exchange of information with quite a number of countries.
What that means is that from January, 2018 they will begin to give information about Nigerians resident in their countries. So we will know about their properties, their bank accounts and we will know about their shareholdings. All these information will become available to the tax collectors.
Whoever fails to take advantage of VAIDS, by the time the programme lapses, will then be liable to pay penalty, pay interest, face prosecution and be open for further tax investigation.
So it’s a very serious matter. It is in the interest of every Nigerian to take advantage of this scheme to ensure that you are free from prosecution in future,” he said.
He explained that the VAIDs programme offers a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, for tax evaders to voluntarily pay back to government what they owe.