Written by Sarah NEGEDU

VAIDS: Buhari bows to pressure, extends deadline

The Presidency may have finally bowed to pressures from some state governors, individuals and business owners to extend its tax amnesty period, as President Muhammadu Buhari last week approved an additional 90days extension of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme.

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had earlier ruled out the possibility of extending the tax amnesty period beyond the March 31 deadline earlier set. However the Easter holiday declared on March 30 and April 2, provided an opportunity for some high profile individuals to push for an extension.

Adeosun had later come out to say government was considering the outcry for the extension, which cited some logistic challenges and the declaration of public holidays to mark the Easter celebration.

 

The VAIDs arrangement offered an initially 9month grace period from July 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018 for tax defaulters to voluntarily regularize their tax liabilities or risk prosecution and forfeiture of the assets.

President Buhari’s approval for the extension of the deadline now gives defaulters an additional 90days within which to update their tax books.

A statement issued by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, states that the short extension after the original March 31 date is based on the appeals of professional bodies and individual taxpayers.

The statement, however, maintained that no further extension of time will be approved after June 30.

It stated that a new date was also given, based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance will be attained, and additional revenue will accrue.

It said that a Fresh Executive Order would be made to give legal backing to the new timeline.

“For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world.

“Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself.

“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potential, these must stop,” it stated.

The president urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularize.”

He further urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who fail to regularize their tax status.

Nigeria has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just 6% of GDP. “This was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw us abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them,” the President added.

Buhari had last year launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the VAIDS as key policies to reposition the Nigerian economy and correct inherited underdevelopment.

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