By Dipo Olowookere
On Thursday, June 29, 2017, the Federal Government will launch a new tax awareness and compliance initiative called Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
Deputy Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Mrs Patricia Deworitshe, disclosed that the scheme would be jointly executed by federal and state governments and would concentrate on the national duty of all Nigerian companies and citizens to pay their taxes.
The tax awareness and compliance initiative is aimed at raising the revenue of the government, especially in this time of economic downturn in the country.
Recall that at an event in Lagos recently, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had said if the government was to grow the economy, it must make efforts at raising revenue through tax.
“If we want to grow, we must address the issue of paying tax. Our tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of six percent is rated one of the lowest in the world,” Mrs Adeosun had said at the programme.
The VAIDS initiative to be launched next week will give tax payers a time-limited opportunity to regularise their tax status without penalty.
According to Mrs Deworitshe, the plan provides a one-off opportunity for evaders to avoid the full force of the law between July 1 and December 31, 2017.
During this period evaders can regularise their tax status in exchange for immunity from prosecution of tax offences and a tax audit, and be free from penalty charges and interest.
Evaders who delay participation beyond December 31, 2017 will be liable for interest on overdue tax balances, the Finance Ministry said.
Mrs Deworitshe said under the new scheme, all tax evaders, when identified, would be subjected to the full force of Nigerian and international law, imprisonment of up to five years, severe extra penalties up to 100% of the outstanding tax due, compound interest at 21% per annum, forfeiture of assets.
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