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FIRS set to prosecute tax defaulters

The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has announced the immediate commencement of a full-scale enforcement exercise on defaulting taxpayers.

FIRS said the exercise, which will be carried out in collaboration with the Joint Tax Board, JTB, follows the expiration of the amnesty provided by the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Finance.

In a Public Notice, titled: “Post-VAIDS Enforcement and Prosecution Exercise,” and signed by the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Muhammad Nami, the service said a full-scale Enforcement Exercise, including prosecution is to commence immediately on defaulting taxpayers who did not take advantage of the VAIDS scheme.

“The Joint Tax Board (JTB) in conjunction with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), is embarking on a full-scale Enforcement Exercise, including prosecution of those defaulting taxable persons who did not take advantage of the Scheme,” the notice read.

“The defaulting taxpayers will be assessed to tax in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Tax Laws,” Nami said.

He further noted that taxpayers who had outstanding tax liabilities which had previously been declared under the Scheme were encouraged to pay up their outstanding liabilities immediately to avoid having the reliefs granted by the Scheme withdrawn.

The Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman, FIRS, on Media and Communication, Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola, recalled in a statement that VAIDS Executive Order No. 004 of 2017, provided an opportunity for taxpayers who were in default of tax liabilities to voluntarily declare their assets and income, and pay taxes due on them, and in return obtain amnesty from prosecution among other benefits for a 12-month period from the 1st of July, 2017.

The scheme had also provided that upon taking advantage of the amnesty, tax reliefs such as immunity from prosecution for tax offences, immunity from tax audit, waiver of interest, waiver of penalties and the option of spreading payment of outstanding liabilities over a maximum period of three (3) years would be available.

“The Executive Order had however stated that the consequence of failure to comply with the scheme would be met with liabilities for the offending taxpayer, including liability to pay in full the principal sum, as well as to pay all penalties and interests that have arisen. This also included a comprehensive tax audit for the taxpayer and withdrawal of reliefs granted,” the statement said.

It added that the Post-VAIDS Enforcement and Prosecution Exercise is coming on the heels of a Post-VAIDS Stakeholders’ Webinar held on 6th June, 2022 and organised by the FIRS.

The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Nami stated during the webinar that according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, over 68 million businesses were active in Nigeria, while less than 20 million of these were active taxpayers.

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