The federal government intends to improve its revenues by ensuring that Nigerians who have investments, businesses or incomes abroad pay their taxes when due, the chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has said.
After a session with the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Wednesday, Mr Fowler told state house correspondents that he attended the FEC meeting with the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, to ratify an automatic exchange of information with other countries.
While explaining what the information exchange entailed, he said, “basically what this means is that Nigeria as a country exchanges financial information with other member countries which hopefully should improve our revenues and also ensure that all Nigerians that have investments or businesses or incomes abroad will pay their taxes as and when due.”
The FIRS boss also negated cases of multiple taxation as he said there was no such case in the country.
“Let me say once again that we do not really have a situation of multiple taxation. You only have multiple taxation when you pay the same tax to different tiers if government. What we have found out is that a lot of people categorise any payment to government as a tax. For example if you receive fine, a penalty, they call it a tax. If you pay for the parking space, they call it a tax. Those are the things you refer to as user charges and not taxes.”
He added that those who did not to take advantage of the grace given by the Voluntary Assets Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) policy, which expired at the end of June, would be made to pay their appropriate taxes with interests and penalties.
“The update is that it expired June 30. And anyone who has not come forth by now we shall use all the legal means to make sure that we bring them to book and make sure that they pay the appropriate tax with interests and penalties.”
President Muhammadu Buhari approved the extension of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to June 30, 2018.
The VAIDS policy, which was an amnesty for tax evaders, was extended from March 31 by President Buhari based on the appeals of professional bodies and individual taxpayers, the Presidency said in a statement.
The statement also said no further extension of time will be approved after June 30. A date picked based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance would be attained, and additional revenue would accrue.
Mr. Fowler, when asked about the response to the VAIDS policy, said the response has been very good.
“We are collating all the figures both at the federal levels and the states levels and I believe that by the middle of July, we should be able to tell the nation the exact progress in terms of the numbers that have declared, amount that have been paid and amount that is going to be paid in instalments
“The federal government has through the ministry of information and also through the office of the Vice President have been talking about the different projects that have been financed with tax revenues and I think as Nigerians begin to see those dividends of democracy, very good spending, people will be more encouraged to pay more taxes,” he said.