VAIDS: FG unveils declaration certificates for voluntary tax payers

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The Federal Government on Wednesday unveiled the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) declaration certificates for people who voluntarily declared their assets and income.

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The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Babatunde Fowler revealed this in Abuja at a VAIDS workshop for state tax boards. He said that the declaration certificates had been approved by the Minister of Finance and the Joint Tax Board.

Fowler said that the certificates would be available to all state internal revenue boards for onward issuance to individuals and companies that had voluntarily declared their income, in line with VAIDS.

“As part efforts toward appreciating and motivating tax payers who voluntarily declared their previously undisclosed assets and income, a VAIDS Declaration Certificate (VDC) will be issued to them,’’ he said. Fowler urged tax defaulters who are yet to take advantage of VAIDS amnesty window, to do so before the June 30, 2018 deadline.

He reiterated that at the expiration of the amnesty period, any individual or company that failed to take advantage of the programme, risks jail term, adding that tax evasion was a criminal offence in Nigeria. “As at date, the scheme has recovered nearly N30 billion, both from individuals and corporate establishments.

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“While the FIRS has collected about 90 per cent of the figure, the state has been responsible for collecting 10 per cent. “Looking beyond the financial returns on the scheme, the impact it has had in promoting voluntary compliance is unquantifiable.

“One of the outcome of the scheme, whether directly or indirectly is the growth of the national taxpayer data base from under 14 million in 2016, to over 19 million in 2018. “We are confident that this number will translate to a positive growth in the country’s tax revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio when the official percentage for 2017 is released.’’

Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Joint Tax Board, Mr Oseni Elamah said that henceforth, each tax authority was expected to issue taxpayers the VAIDS certificate upon submission of their forms.

“It is pertinent here to distinguish between the VAIDS Declaration Certificate and the Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) to disambiguate the purpose of the two documents.

“While the VDC is issued as evidence that the taxpayer has declared previously undisclosed assets and income, the TCC is issued after the taxpayer has totally paid all the tax due.

“TCC will still play the role of the tax authority certifying that all taxes due have been fully paid or that no tax is due from the taxpayer,’’ he said. Elamah said that precautions had been taken to guide against forgery of the VAIDS Declaration Certificate.

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The VAIDs programme offered a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, for tax evaders to voluntarily repay to government what they owe.

It was later extended to June 30, 2018 to accommodate late declarations. In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties that should have been levied and also waive the interest that should have been paid on overdue taxes.

Also, those who declare honestly will not be subjected to any investigation or tax audit after the grace period.

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