Published On: Thu, Jun 29th, 2017

Osinbajo Announces Immunity For Tax Offenders In Exchange For Information

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By Nuel Suji – Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday signed the fourth Executive Order for the implementation of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), even as he declared amnesty for tax payers who voluntarily disclose the level of their previous default.

Mr. Osinbajo disclosed that full immunity including forgiveness of previously owed taxes, awaits any defaulter who would come forward to declare previously undisclosed assets and income, assuring that they would not face criminal prosecution for tax offences or be subject to tax investigations.

The ag. President spoke at the State House, Abuja during the signing ceremony of the new Executive Order.

According to him, “When people pay taxes they pay more attention to what Govt is doing. There’s a greater level of political and social consciousness,” Osinbajo said.

“Taxes not only about boosting government revenues. When people pay taxes they hold government to account more. Only 214 Nigerians pay taxes of N20 million or more each year. A personal tax bill of N20 million implies personal income of N80 million.

“All of these 214 Nigerians who pay N20m or more in taxes annually are to be found in Lagos State. I’m sure in this room (and I’m not looking at anyone), there are another 214 people who earn more than N80 million annually.

“Tax evasion not limited only to wealthy Nigerians. Also not limited to individuals. Many companies maintain 2-3 sets of books.”

“The Joint Tax Board, JTB, as at May 2017 disclosed that the total number of tax payers in Nigeria is just 14 million out of an estimated 69.9 million who are economically active,” he said

Osinbajo said Nigeria is now party to the new global standard on Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), which kicks off 2018, and would facilitate apprehension of tax evaders.

“Starting today, every Thursday will be tax Thursday across Nigeria, for tax enlightenment and awareness. Today I declare that paying Taxes is our duty to our nation, and I declare the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme open,” he said.

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun urged Nigerians to pay tax, saying the present state of the economy requires that all available sources of income including tax, must be explored to boost the economy.

The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, said payment of tax was not only a collective responsibility of all Nigerians, to ensure money was made available for government to execute its programmes on behalf of the people, but also a source of empowerment for the people to hold government accountable.

“If one pays tax, one would be bold to demand for services whenever such services are lacking in their area,” he said.



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