Acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, Thursday gave a nine-month grace to all tax evaders to regularize their tax status or face criminal prosecution. Osinbajo gave the ultimatum at the inauguration of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDs) in Abuja Thursday June 29th.
According to Osinbajo, the new scheme which is an initiative of the Buhari-led administration, was specially designed to help taxpayers, who had not declared their taxable incomes and assets, as well as those who don’t pay at all, and those who had been underpaying or under remitting, to correct their irregularities. Osinbajo said the scheme would cover all federal and state taxes such as companies’ income tax, personal income tax, petroleum profit tax, capital gains tax, stamp duties and tertiary education tax.
“The scheme will be operated from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. It will be supported by an executive order, which I will sign into law today to offer a once in a life time opportunity to those in default to regularise their tax affairs. In exchange for full and honest declaration, tax evaders will receive immunity from prosecution, forgiveness of penalty and interest that is due on unpaid taxes. They will also get the full assurance that all information provided will remain confidential. In addition, participants in the scheme will not be selected for audit investigation for the period. We understand that some tax payers may have problems raising cash and for that reason, we have built in a system that will allow those owing to pay over a period of time” he said.
The acting president added that the Federal government would immediately commence a nationwide sensitisation of Nigerians on the scheme and tax in general to ensure compliance.
“To this end, we have agreed that every Thursday starting from today, and for the next one year will be declared Tax Thursday. We expect the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and every state government to organize sensitisation events that would raise awareness of the tax system to ensure massive enrollment of new tax payers. We must enroll at least 4 million tax payers and increase the level of payment among the 14 million already registered tax payers. We expect that all state governors will personally lead this initiative and support the work of the 7,500 community tax liaison officers that would be employed shortly”he said.