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Tax evaders risk 5-year jail term from March 31 –FG

Tax evaders risk 5-year jail term from March 31 –FG

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…Promises to name, shame defaulters

Isaac AnumiheSola Ojo, Kaduna

 Federal Government yesterday gave  tax evaders till March 31, 2018  to  declare their income and pay appropriate taxes under the  Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) window or be  prosecuted and jailed for  five years..

Giving the warning during the official launch of the scheme in Kaduna, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said that while the Federal Government was making sure to improve service delivery, citizens must play their part of accurate tax payments for their  properties.

According to her, available data showed that only low income earners and mostly civil servants whose taxes are deducted at source are complying while some business tycoons who earn more pay little or nothing.

“The government is not stigmatising or accusing anybody, but will not tolerate it any further, hence Nigerians are encouraged to take advantage of the window now or face prosecution at the expiration by the end of this month” she stressed.

The Minister  recalled that VAIDS was launched on  June 29, 2017, by the then Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to help many Nigerians whose tax status are not up-to-date, doubtful or lagging, to standardise their positions.

The scheme,  she said,  is reflective of the Federal Government’s desire to bring many more eligible tax payers into the tax net and encourage them with incentives of confidentiality as well as waiver of the interests and penalties, those who had knowingly or otherwise under-declared or never declared previously earned incomes and acquired assets.

“The scheme also offers tax defaulters the option of spreading payment of outstanding liabilities over a maximum period of three years as may be agreed with the relevant tax authority.

“For tax evaders that fail to key into the VAIDS window by  March 31, 2018, they will be liable for interest on overdue tax balances, forfeiture of assets as well as imprisonment of up to five years” she stated.

Earlier, the Executive Chairman,  Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS),  Mr Tunde Fowler, and the Accountant General of the Federation,  Alhaji  Ahmad Idris, in their separate speeches said, the concept of VAIDS was to rekindle the very essence of collection of taxes for development. They both posited that expected development cannot come from nothing but through the commitment of resources which mostly must come through tax payments by citizens.

This was just as the FIRS boss appealed to the consciousness of Nigerians to be mindful of moral responsibility by giving what is due to government by way of tax payments which will be judiciously utilised to provide dividends of democracy.

For his part, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, promised to provide all relevant information through the Kaduna Geographical Information Service (KADGIS) to all the tax authorities in the country.

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