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A call for humane taxation

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VOLUNTARY Assets and Income Declaration Scheme(VAIDS) was introduced by the current administration as an initiative designed to encourage voluntary disclosure of previously undisclosed assets and income for payment of all outstanding taxes.

It has been implemented by the FIRS in collaboration with all the 36 States Internal Revenue Service with a campaign to sensitise people of the need for voluntary tax compliance.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, said   through data collected, the Federal Government has detected many people whose lifestyle do not justify the tax they pay, or who do not pay any at all. She assured such people will not be prosecuted or made to pay their tax arrears if they file the proper returns and regularise their tax payment before the VAIDS deadline which has now been moved from March 31 to June 30.

Madaki O Ameh, a legal practitioner said the basic justification of the state in collection of taxes remains the need to raise funds to provide amenities for the common good.  Where those amenities are either lacking completely, or where they exist, are largely provided by the citizens themselves without any input from government, then the moral or legal right of the state to impose such taxes becomes suspect.

He further explained that   in caring societies, the government provides a sense of belonging to all its citizens, irrespective of whether they are strong or weak.  Those who are strong and able to work are consciously encouraged to engage in gainful ventures, which create wealth.  Others who are not so lucky, either due to ill health or other causes, are recognised as such by the society and provided for in a caring manner

In Nigeria however, the reverse is the case.  The few people in government consume most of the national wealth through a bogus government bureaucracy, which adds next to no value to the lives of the people.

The irresponsible way the national wealth is frittered away without any form of accountability to the people, makes public office very attractive in Nigeria.  Government officials do not have to do anything for the people.  If a Governor constructs a road, people hail him as having tried!  They fail to realize that provision of such common amenities, is the reason for the existence of government in the first place.

In an uncaring society such as ours in Nigeria, one wonders what the purpose of taxation is.  The money realised from taxes are not put to any use that people can see, and those who are unable to provide for themselves are completely neglected and left to die or make out a living by inconveniencing others.  The needy are all over the place on the streets, begging for money to eat, with no hope of any provision from the social welfare departments, as is the case in other saner societies.

As good as taxation is, it must be flexible, convenient, simple, certain, elastic, economical, productive and balanced.

Comfort Yakubu,

 Abuja

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