The Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler, on Wednesday said with the June 30 expiration of the deadline set for compliance with the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme, the Federal Government was set to descend on defaulters.
He said the government would take all necessary legal steps to ensure that the defaulters were brought to book.
Fowler stated this in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after joining the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, to brief the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He explained that with the expiration of the VAIDS grace period, defaulters would be made to pay their outstanding taxes with interests and penalties.
“The VAIDS expired on June 30 and anyone who has not come forth by now, we shall use all legal means to make sure that we bring them to book and make sure that they pay the appropriate taxes with interests and penalties,” he said.
He, however, described the response by Nigerians while the scheme lasted as very good.
“The response has been very good. We are collating all the figures, both at the federal and the states levels, and I believe that by the middle of July, we should be able to tell the nation the exact progress in terms of the numbers that have declared, amount that have been paid and amount that is going to be paid in instalments,” the FIRS boss stated.
Fowler also said there was no truth in the allegations of double taxation being levelled by some Nigerians.
He explained, “Let me say once again that we do not really have a situation of multiple taxation. You only have multiple taxation when you pay the same tax to different tiers of government.
“What we have found out is that a lot of people categorise any payment to government as a tax. For example, if they receive a fine, or a penalty, they call it a tax. If they pay for parking space, they call it a tax. Those are the things you refer to as user charges and not taxes.”
As part of efforts to encourage Nigerians to pay their taxes voluntarily, the FIRS boss added that the Federal Government had, through the Ministry of Information and the Office of the Vice President, been talking about the different projects financed with tax revenues.
He expressed the belief that as Nigerians begin to see those dividends of democracy, they would be encouraged to pay more taxes.
He said he attended the council’s meeting with the minister to ratify the automatic exchange of information.
“Basically, what this means is that Nigeria as a country exchanges financial information with other member countries, which hopefully should improve our revenues and ensure that all Nigerians that do have investments or businesses or incomes abroad, will pay their taxes as and when due,” Fowler explained.