With more than 2000 highbrow business plazas and other identified properties currently sealed and under temporary seizure for tax default for several years, the Federal Inland Revenue Service [FIRS] has stated that the properties may be auctioned to recover the tax liabilities standing against them if the owners fail to regularize their tax position.
Indeed, the FIRS stated that since July when the Federal Government launched the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme [VAIDS], a tax amnesty programme introduced to encourage defaulting tax payers regularize their tax records without recourse to the appropriate fines and interest, some N17 billion has been generated by those who have utilized the amnesty window.
In fact, more than N6 billion additional payments are on their way to the Government coffers before the end of December 2017 to bring the total payment under the scheme to N23 billion.
These facts were revealed yesterday in Abuja by the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service [FIRS], Babatunde Fowler at a one – day sensitization workshop for the Media on the VAIDS.
The remittances, Fowler added was made by less than 10 corporate entities, with part of the remittances made in hard currencies.
He regretted that in the history of Nigerian tax administration, no tax defaulter has been sent to jail because tax avoidance and related ills have been handled with levity as a result of the fact that taxes have not really been Nigeria’s main source of dependence for economic development.
This, however , he pointed out is about to change at the expiration of the VAIDS amnesty programme by 31st of March 2018 when every fang would begin to bear on tax defaulters, including prosecution and jailing convicts, because emphasis is now been shifted to tax revenue due to the declining fortunes from oil mineral resources.
Fowler said : “ It is unfortunate that till date nobody has been jailed as a result of tax evasion, perhaps due to the fact that both the Federal and State Governments may have been getting a lot of revenue from crude oil resources. But as it is clear to everyone now, nobody can depend on oil again for the obvious reason of its declining fortunes. That is why this time, its clear that if we want to achieve sustainable development, we must return to the traditional form of revenue which is tax.
“That is why we introduced VAIDS which gives all tax payers the nine months amnesty window to allow them regularize their tax records for the past six years and enjoy the penalties and interest waivers to avoid the wrath of the post VAIDS regime which will insist on full compliance with the tax regulations on the penalties of tax evasion.
“Already, we have sealed over 2000 high brow properties in Abuja whose owners have not been paying taxes. We will take them to court and obtain the order to auction the properties and recover the owed taxes if their owners fail to pay up come post VAIDS era,’ the FIRS Executive Chairman sounded alarmingly.