By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
THE federal government has rejected the call to extend the deadline for the execution of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
The scheme is a voluntary self-assessment and tax compliance window for individuals and business entities to pay appropriate tax arrears or face criminal prosecution at the end of the scheme scheduled for March 2018.
Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, said, yesterday, in Abuja at a VAIDS training workshop organised in conjunction with Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) that those concerned must comply within the specified period.
While stressing that the time allowed was enough for those who have the intention to comply to do so, he said, “This programme will not be extended. It is an initiative of the federal government. It was adopted by the House of Representatives and the Senate. I think those who have the intention to do the right thing will do so within six months. This programme is for six months. For individuals and corporate organizations that have no intention of doing the right, even if you give them 10 years, they won’t do the right thing.”
Fowler said that VAIDS was badly needed by Nigeria to allow defaulting individuals and business organizations remedy their tax payments, adding that although there were legal provisions on how government should deal decisively with tax evaders, the share magnitude in terms of the number of those affected was overwhelming.
His words: “In Nigeria many people don’t use the services of tax consultants because they think they can do it on their own but I think this is one programme in which they will need your services, expertise and your buy-in. This is a programme that Nigeria needs very badly. There are other economies that were in similar situations and they used similar programmes to get out of similar situations.
“We have the laws in the statute books, but how many people do you want to prosecute? How many companies do you want to close?”
President of CITN, Mr. Cyril Ede, had earlier appealed for an extension from the March deadline to September 2018. He said that extension of the deadline would be required to enable many clients of his organization’s members to comply.