VAIDS Extended To June 30 By Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday gave the approval for the extension of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme to June 30, 2018.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the short extension after the original March 31 deadline expired was based on pleadings from professional bodies and individual taxpayers.

Adesina quoted the President as saying that no further time elongation would be approved after June 30.

He further quoted Buhari as explaining that the new deadline was given based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance would be attained and additional revenue would accrue to the government.

The presidential spokesman indicated that a fresh Executive Order would be made to give legal backing to the new timeline.

He quoted the President as saying, “For a nation of people, who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world. Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do their duty to their nation, neighbour and themselves.

“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potential, these must stop.”

Buhari urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join the government in the rebuilding mission “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularise.”

He added that the right thing might not be convenient or comfortable, “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of.”

The President further urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who failed to regularise their tax status.

VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to reposition the Nigerian economy and correct inherited underdevelopment.

The country has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

“This was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw us abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them,” the President added.

Buhari had last year launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and VAIDS as a tax amnesty programme as the first in the series of reforms that would transform the country’s tax system and provide sustainable and predictable funding for all tiers of government.

The statement added, “Tax revenues will ensure that public infrastructure is provided and public services are funded to improve the lives of the people.

“Taxes redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less, and VAIDS is one of the windows to achieve such.”

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr. Babatunde Fowler, had disclosed earlier last month that N20bn had so far been realised from 262 taxpayers who declared their assets under VAIDS.

Before the extension of the deadline, VAIDS offered a grace period of nine months from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 for tax defaulters to voluntarily pay back to the government what they owed.

In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promised to waive penalties that should have been levied and the interest that should have been paid on overdue taxes.

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

A tax expert and economic analyst have described the extension of the tax amnesty scheme as a good development.

The Principal Partner, ROAC, a leading accounting and tax advisory firm, Mr. Gbenga Akinyemi, said the extension was a win-win situation for both the tax authority and taxpayers.

“It will afford those who for one reason or the other failed to meet the deadline to escape the payment of penalty. The good thing again is that for companies whose financial year ends on December 31, the deadline for submission of annual tax returns is June 30. It will also help the government to bring more people into the tax net,” he stated.

The Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, advised the Federal Government never to entertain a further extension of the deadline, pointing out that citizens might continue to take things for granted if it was extended again.

Chuwku said, “The extension provides an opportunity for those who have not complied to comply. There is also a need for enforcement, otherwise you may be dealing with recalcitrant people.

“The point is that if we keep extending, people may keep deferring it. I feel the government should have started sanctioning defaulters. But since the government in its wisdom has done it, I advise that there should not be a further extension. Because sanctions are hardly imposed in our clime, people take things for granted.”

Buhari Extends Amnesty For Tax Evaders

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to June 30, 2018.

The extension after the original March 31 date is based on the appeals of professional bodies and individual taxpayers, the Presidency said in a statement.

It said no further extension of time will be approved after June 30.

The president added that a new date was also given, based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance will be attained, and additional revenue will accrue.

A fresh Executive Order will be made to give legal backing to the new timeline.

According to President Buhari, “For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world.

“Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself.

“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potential, these must stop.”

The President urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join the government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularize.”

He added that the right thing may not be convenient or comfortable, “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of.”

President Buhari further urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who fail to regularize their tax status.

The statement by spokesperson Femi Adesina adds the below:

VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to re-position the Nigerian economy and correct inherited underdevelopment.

The country has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just 6% of GDP. This was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw us abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them.

President Buhari had last year launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the VAIDS tax amnesty is first in the series of reforms that will transform our tax system and provide sustainable predictable funding for all tiers of government.

Tax revenues will ensure that public infrastructure is provided, and public services are funded to improve the lives of the people.

Taxes redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less, and VAIDS is one of the windows to achieve such.

VAIDS: N20bn Paid By 262 Nigerians In Eight Months, Says Fowler

The Federal Government has realized  sum of N20bn from 262 taxpayers who have declared their assets under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme.

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Babatunde Fowler gave the fact on the figures on Wednesday night while appearing  on a live television programme, ‘The Core’, which aired on Channels Television.

The programme also featured the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, among other panellists.

The VAIDS offers a grace period of nine months from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, for tax defaulters to voluntarily pay back to the government what they owe.

In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties that should have been levied and the interest that should have been paid on overdue taxes.

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

Fowler stated that as the scheme was approaching the deadline, there were lots of people who would take advantage of the scheme.

He said, “On the federal level, people have declared and paid N20bn; and one thing I will let you know is that based on the experiences of other countries, usually people wait till the last minute.

“In terms of applications received at the federal level, about 262 applications. So far paid is N20bn and people are still in the process of putting together their facts and in the next two or three weeks, the figures will be different.”

He added that the government had identified properties worth over N2tn in Abuja whose owners were not paying taxes.

He added that if those who owned the properties fail to regularise their status, the properties would be sold by the government after obtaining court orders on them.

Fowler said, “We have identified properties worth N2tn that belong to corporate organisations that have never filed any tax and now we are in the process of getting a court order to start selling those properties if the owners do not come and pay the taxes.

“And this is a programme we going to roll over across the whole country and we’ve concluded in Kaduna and in Lagos, and we are going to other states.”

Adeosun added that the government was committed to implementing the VAIDS as the country had one of the lowest tax to Gross Domestic Product ratio in the world.

She lamented that out of the 14 million taxpayers in the country, about 13.5 million were paying through the Pay-As-You-Earn scheme.

This, she said, implied that many people in the informal sector had yet to start paying taxes.

According to her, many high net-worth individuals are not paying taxes, adding that the government was in possession of data to prosecute them at the expiration of the tax amnesty programme.

Adeosun stated, “The extent of non-compliance is so huge and we have given people who have compliance issues to declare without prosecution or paying interest

“Our tax to GDP ratio is low and it’s not because we don’t have tax laws, but because people are not complying.”

She said the government had no political undertone in the implementation of the VAIDS, adding that the confidentiality of those who declared would be protected.

The minister stated that the effective implementation of the VAIDS would restore the efficiency of the country’s tax system.

Adeosun explained that an efficient tax system would ensure more revenue for the government, stating that officials of government who collect tax revenues without remitting same would be dealt with.

FG Identifies 130,000 High Profile Tax Evaders..To Be Prosecuted Through Special Courts.

 

The Federal Government will start the prosecution of tax defaulters who fail to take advantage of the nine-month amnesty window provided by the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme from April 1 this year.

It said that from that date, special tax courts would be set up to prosecute tax offenders under VAIDS. t

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, stated these on Tuesday in Abuja during a live breakfast show, ‘Good Morning Nigeria’, aired by the Nigerian Television Authority.

VAIDS offers a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 for tax defaulters to voluntarily pay back to government what they owe.

In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties that should have been levied and the interest that should have been paid on overdue taxes.

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

The minister said the government was aware of the slow nature of the judicial system and would be setting up special courts to fast-track the adjudication of tax-related offences under the VAIDS initiative.

She noted that all incomes, assets and other properties earned and acquired from 2010 to date would be covered under VAIDS.

The minister added that assets, properties and incomes acquired or earned during the period must be accounted for by individuals and companies under the scheme.

She said that through the data mining programme being implemented under the ‘Project Lighthouse’ initiative, over 130,000 high profile individuals had been identified for scrutiny.

Adeosun explained that upon the expiry of the March 31 deadline, the Federal Government would go after the 130,000 high profile individuals.

The minister stated that the government, through the use of information technology, had gathered adequate data that would be used to prosecute the offenders.

She lamented that the lifestyles of many of the high net-worth individuals did not support their tax status, adding that the government was fully committed to effectively implementing the tax amnesty programme.

Adeosun gave an example of a high profile individual, who she said owned a private jet and properties in London, but had been paying about N480,000 as tax annually in the last five years.

She said, “We have found a lot of companies in their thousands, which have not either paid anything (as taxes) or under-declared. We have somebody who got a contract from the government for billions of naira and (when) we checked his tax status, he never declared that money.

“After March 31, we have plans to do special tax courts and accelerated prosecution because the thing with tax prosecution is that it is a very simple case with no defence to it. It’s a matter of law; the question to ask is: ‘Did you pay or not?’ So it’s a very easy case and it’s not like the EFCC cases that we will have to be tracing this or that.

“The focus on tax collection remains after VAIDS. Yesterday, we were analysing data and now we have flagged over 130,000 already, and from March 31, we will start and say these people did not participate in VAIDS and this is the data we have on them, now pursue them.

“There can be no sacred cows and nobody should be too big or too small to be told to do the right thing. People must as they earn money pay a portion of it; and so, the focus on tax will continue.”

The finance minister also accused multinational companies of colluding with tax officials to manipulate the tax system in Nigeria.

She said, “On the issue of multinationals, what we’ve found out is that they are not paying the right taxes and they are sometimes the ones colluding with tax officers here to minimise their taxes and we feel that is a corrupt practice.

“In the United States, if you offer a bribe, it’s an offence and we feel that going to another country and deliberately manipulating the tax system so as not to pay from that country where you are earning so much will also be labelled in that category.”

When asked whether the Federal Government would extend the tax amnesty programme beyond the March 31 deadline, she said there was no plan for any extension.

There has been pressure on the Presidency in the last few days by some former governors, top politicians, high profile individuals, business owners and professional bodies, among others, for an extension of the scheme.

But Adeosun stated that the government would not extend the tax amnesty programme.

133,000 Nigerians, Firms Defaulted Tax Payment Regulations – Adeosun

The data mining efforts of the federal government through the Federal Ministry of Finance has identified a new batch of over 130,000 high net worth individuals and companies that have potential tax underpayments.

The Honourable Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, revealed this on Tuesday while appearing on the Good Morning Nigeria programme of the Nigerian Television Authority.

The Minister disclosed that the data was currently being compiled by Project Lighthouse in preparation for the closure of the ongoing Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), which ends on 31st March, 2018.

Project Lighthouse is a unique project of the Federal Ministry of Finance that combines data from federal and state agencies and overseas countries.

She said, “The data have been received from a number of sources including land registries of the governments of Lagos, Kaduna, Kano and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

“In addition, Nigeria has been able to request data from a number of nations including traditional tax havens. The data have been received from a number of foreign jurisdictions under the exchange of information protocols.

“Under the exchange of information protocols, this information relates to bank records and financial filings for tax purposes and is obtained from tax havens who are signatories to the information sharing agreements such as British Virgin Islands and Mauritius.”

She explained that the data received from overseas countries would only be used for taxation purposes in line with the protocols governing the exchange of information

“The sole interest of the federal and state governments in the use of the data is in raising tax revenues. There is absolutely no hidden agenda on the use of the data,” she added.

Mrs. Adeosun hailed the ‘unprecedented’ level of cooperation between the federal and state governments, which she said was a marked change from the past when the various arms of government did not align their efforts.

She identified the common violations by non-compliant tax payers to include:

· Under-declaration of and non-declaration of income earned including income from government contracts and overseas trading;

· Collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) which is not duly remitted to FIRS;

· Charging of non-allowable personal expenses to company accounts particularly with reference to overseas school fees;

· Inconsistency between income declared for tax purposes and the value of assets owned.

She advised non-compliant tax payers to seek professional advice and to also consult relevant literature available from the tax authorities on tax rules.

She underscored the federal government’s commitment to raising tax revenues which were essential to grow the economy and create jobs for Nigerians.

She cited the fact that just N1 million could feed over 14,200 primary school children under the Homegrown School Feeding programme as well as creating many jobs in the agricultural sector.

Asked if the federal government would extend the deadline of the tax amnesty programme, the minister ruled out an extension of the deadline saying sufficient period had been given to tax payers to voluntary and truthfully declare their assets and income which had not been declared previously.

On the economy, she assured that the country was on the path of growth.

Nigeria, it would be recalled, had exited recession in the second quarter of 2017, recording a growth of 0.72 per cent.

The country further consolidated its recovery in the third and fourth quarters of last year, with growths of 1.40 per cent and 1.92 per cent, respectively.

Mrs. Adeosun said, “The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has laid the foundation for the repositioning of the economy by a series of reforms which are being sequenced to ensure maximum impact and benefits to Nigeria and the citizens.

“These include huge investments in infrastructure and social welfare across the country, improved revenue mobilisation, rebuilding of foreign reserves and stabilization of exchange rate.”

She further noted that revenue mobilisation was potentially the master key to unlocking Nigeria’s huge growth potentials and funding the infrastructure programmes.

In addition, the minister said the federal government would continue to create more fiscal space for reforms to enhance productivity and opportunity in the non-oil sector.

VAIDS: March 31st Remains The Deadline – FG

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun on Tuesday has debunked the news that the Federal Government would extend the March 31 deadline of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme.

She said this while during an  interview at a live breakfast show “Good Morning Nigeria” aired by the Nigeria Television Authority.

The VAIDs programme offers a grace period from July 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018, for tax defaulters to freely give back all they owe the government.

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 tax.

Also, those who declare their tax obligation honestly would not be subjected to any investigation or tax audit after the nine-month grace period.

There had been pressure on the presidency within the last few days by some former governors, top politicians, high profile individuals, business owners and professional bodies among others seeking an extension of the scheme.

But Adeosun said that the government would not extend the tax amnesty program. She said the Federal Government had been magnanimous enough by granting the nine months tax amnesty to tax defaulters adding that those who are interested in the scheme still have about three weeks to come out voluntarily to declare their income.

FG To Nigerians: Beware Of Fake Tax Officers.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Sunday warned those wishing to take advantage of the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme in regularising their tax status to be cautious of fake tax officials.

She said this his her response to the reported activities of illegal officers claiming to be officials of the VAIDS.

Adeosun advised taxpayers to demand written notices whenever they get phone calls from tax officials.

In a statement on Sunday by her Media Adviser, Oluyinka Akintunde, the minister stated, “My attention has been drawn to reports of some unidentified tax officials requesting for bank details and addresses of taxpayers.

“If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from the tax office, do not panic, ask them to send you a written notice. Do not provide any details like your address or bank details.”

The VAIDS programme offers a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 for tax defaulters to voluntarily pay back to the government what they owe.

In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties that should have been levied and waive the interest that should have been paid on overdue taxes.”

We Will Name, Shame Tax Evaders Next Month – Adeosun

The Federal Government has revealed plans to aggressively go after tax evaders to prosecute them and publicly reveal their identities.

Through the Ministry of Finance, the Federal Government said tax evaders will be prosecuted, named and shamed using its the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which will end by March 31, this year.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun said this on Thursday during the VAIDS Stakeholders symposium which held at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Murtala Square, in Kaduna State.

According to her, the Federal Government has the political will and data to go after tax evaders who fail to take advantage of the tax amnesty programme.

“We will close VAIDS at the expiration of the programme on March 31, 2018. And once the programme is closed, we will name and shame and also prosecute tax evaders.

“Many Nigerians cannot explain their lifestyles or match their lifestyles, assets and income with their tax payment,” she said.

VAIDS, Adesoun explained, has been strengthened by the data on financial accounts, property and trusts shared by other countries. She said the programme will aid in recovering funds to provide basic needs for Nigerians.

“The offshore tax shelter system is basically over. Those who have hidden money overseas are being exposed and whilst Nigerians can legally keep their money anywhere in the world.

“They must first pay any taxes due to the Nigerian government so that we can fund the needs of the masses and create jobs and wealth for our people.”

Adeosun also said she is displeased with the six percent tax to gross domestic ratio for Nigeria. This, she explained is one of the lowest in the world

“We cannot be in the bottom division when it comes to tax collection and expect to be in the premium when it comes to development, it can’t work and so, we must come together as one and do the right thing,” she said.

VAIDS: Lagos, Osun, Kaduna, FCT Move Against Tax Defaulters

The governments of Lagos, Osun and Kaduna states as well as the Federal Capital Territory administration have promised the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration (VAIDS) office in the Federal Ministry of Finance to provide all transaction data required to identify tax defaulters at the expiration of the first phase of the tax amnesty programme in March 2018. This was disclosed in a statement issued by the VAIDS office.

According to the statement, the VAIDS office expects states that provide all the required information to experience sharp rises in their respective Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), as analyses of the obtained data will lead to considerable recovery of otherwise lost revenues.

Earlier this month, the VAIDS office disclosed that it has begun collection of data on the income and assets of high net-worth individuals and companies in Nigeria. Useful data of all payments and receipts over N100million, according to the VAIDS office, have been obtained from the Nigerian Customs Service.

Also, data on all beneficiaries of payments above N100million have been obtained from the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Export-Import Bank, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and land registries.  The VAIDS office is equally looking to derive more data from treasury bills, Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and payment platforms such as Remitta.
Source: Vanguard

Nigeria Joins 71 Countries To Combat Tax Evasion

Nigeria has joined 71 other countries to combat tax evasion as the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has signed two major multilateral instruments.

These instruments are the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (MLI) and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement‎ (CRS MCAA).

Chairman, Mr. Tunde Fowler, Managing Director of FIRS signed the agreements on behalf of Nigeria in Paris, with Mr. Ben Dickinson, head of global relations and development division of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in attendance.

A statement issued by Pascal Saint-Amans, director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (CTPA), said the signing of the agreements makes Nigeria the 71st jurisdiction to sign the MLI and the 94th jurisdiction to join the CRS MCAA.

The agreements will give Nigeria automatic exchange of tax and financial information among 101 tax jurisdictions and enhance the country’s ability and those of the other countries to contain tax avoidance and evasion as well as share financial data.

The MLI is a legal instrument designed to prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) by multinational enterprises. It allows jurisdictions to transpose results from the OECD/G20 BEPS Project, including minimum standards to implement in tax treaties to prevent treaty abuse and “treaty shopping”, into their existing networks of bilateral tax treaties in a quick and efficient manner.

The text of the MLI, the explanatory statement and background information are available on OECD website along with the list of the 71 jurisdictions participating in the MLI and the position of each signatory under the MLI.

The CRS MCAA is a multilateral competent authority agreement based on Article 6 of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, which aims to implement the automatic exchange of financial account information pursuant to the OECD/G20 Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and to deliver the automatic exchange of CRS information between 101 jurisdictions by 2018.

The text of the CRS MCAA, background information and the list of the 94 signatories are available on OECD website. Saint-Amans explained that the agreements will provide “automatic exchange of tax and financial information among 101 tax jurisdictions and enhance the ability of countries to contain tax avoidance and evasion.

It would be recalled that Fowler has said with the introduction of Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), no Nigerian can evade tax payment.

According to him, the board has received positive response so far on the scheme. To improve tax compliance, the Federal Government said tax offenders stand to enjoy 29 per cent waiver on overdue taxes if they take advantage of VAIDS. The VAIDS programme is aimed at reducing tax payers’ liability and creates more awareness on the statutory function of every working citizen to pay tax.

The scheme which started July 1, offers a window for those who, before now, have not complied with extant tax regulations to remedy their positions by providing them limited amnesty to enable voluntary declaration and payment of liabilities.

Source: Leadership

FG to to Give Huge Tax Debtors 3-Year Payment Plan

To encourage more voluntary or accidental tax defaulters to pay up, the Federal Government is to offer tax defaulters with huge (tax) liabilities up to a period of three years to spread their tax payment under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme.

According to a report by The Punch, “Top government officials involved in the implementation of VAIDS confided in our correspondent that those who failed to take advantage of the scheme and later found to have under-declared their income or assets would be treated as wilful tax evaders and made to face the full force of the law.

“The official said apart from prosecution, the government had agreed to allow taxpayers with huge tax debts to enter into arrangements to pay outstanding tax liabilities in instalments.

“However, he said while these categories of tax defaulters might be allowed to settle their tax obligations in instalments, they would be required to pay interest on the outstanding balance.”

“The official said, “Even though ignorance of the law is not an excuse, the government has decided to take the pragmatic approach of offering an amnesty window to allow Nigerians, who may have evaded tax, whether ignorantly or deliberately, the opportunity to do their civic duty and pay the correct taxes whilst providing the much needed revenue for Nigeria’s infrastructure.

“The Federal Government appreciates that many defaulters have assets but may not have cash. Therefore, taxpayers will be allowed to enter into arrangements to pay outstanding tax liabilities in instalments.

“Taxpayers may, at the discretion of the relevant authority, be granted up to three years to pay their liability, but will be obliged to pay interest on the outstanding balance.”