Efforts to ensure that citizens comply with the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) before the March 31st deadline have ramped up in the last few weeks. Taxpayers all over the country have been encouraged to regularise their tax status by taking advantage of the penalty-free scheme which began on the 1st of July 2017. To this end, Kadaria Ahmed hosted the Honourable Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Tunde Fowler, as well as analysts, members of the press and an online audience, in a televised panel discussion on the program, The Core, which aired on Channels Television at 8.00 pm on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018.
The Honourable Minister stated that only 6% of Nigerian citizens currently remit taxes, a staggeringly low statistic that the scheme is determined to increase. When questioned about the sustainability of the tax scheme especially considering that these tax laws have always been in existence, but have hitherto been unenforced, she stated that the increase in the availability of data via national schemes, such as the BVN and the Automatic Exchange of Information Scheme with the United Kingdom and other participating countries has made it easier to track income and assets owned by Nigerians who reside in Nigeria and have assets both within and outside the country.
Questions were also raised concerning the use of the data gathered, and the challenge of corruption within the MDA’s, who often collect taxes but don’t remit them. Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Tunde Fowler, assured the audience that the data collected is strictly confidential. He also stated that the FIRS has invested largely in technology and that the agency is looking into implementing cashless tax remittance to minimize leaks and increase the efficiency of tax collection.
“For me, this is about building Nigeria,” stressed the Minister of Finance, “We must stop relying on oil. This is one of the things we must get right, and it could transform this country.” The VAIDS scheme extends to corporates, individuals, agencies, MDA’s and business owners alike, and there will be penalties for all entities who do not take advantage of the amnesty period, which ends on the 31st of March, 2018.