Babatunde Fowler, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)

The Voluntary and Income Declaration Scheme initiated by the Federal Government in July 2017 has increased the country’s tax database from 14 to 19 million, Babatunde Fowler, Director General of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), has said.

He made this known while declaring open the presentation of VAIDS certificates of declaration to chairmen of states’ tax revenue authorities.

While making his speech, Fowler said: “Looking beyond the financial returns of the scheme, the impact it has had in promoting voluntary compliance is unquantifiable. One of the outcomes of the scheme, whether directly or indirectly, is the growth of the national taxpayer database from under 14 million pre 2016 number to over 19 million in 2018, and we are confident that these numbers will translate into a positive growth in the country tax revenue-to-GDP ratio when the official percentage for 2017 has been released.” 

Fowler also touched on the global trend of tax avoidance and tax havens. He said the international community is creating initiatives to deter the people from evading their obligatory payments:

“VAIDS goes beyond just taking advantage of immediate gains," he said.

“The international community, recognising the need to present a united front against this trend, which is a limiting factor in the quest towards exploiting the inherent potential of tax as a viable alternative to sustainable revenue generation, especially for developing and emerging economies, has designed and is implementing a number of initiatives that will leave no hiding place for the tax evader.

“We believe that this aspect of the workshop will facilitate the exchange of ideas which we are confident will assist all of us in utilising the remaining period that is provided by the scheme.”

He disclosed plans to start promotional initiatives that have the potential to make tax environments friendlier: “As part of activities lined up to ensure increased awareness on the scheme in particular and tax compliance in general, staff of JTB secretariat in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Finance will take part in every tax Thursday sensitisation exercises in the states until the end of the scheme commencing from 14th June, 2018," he said.

“It may also interest us to know that the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee is proposing a national tax day, a special day which is to be set aside every year for awareness and sensitisation on tax related matters."

The scheme was designed by the Presidency to get indidviduals and corporate bodies to declare their income and regularise their tax status. It was built to close on March 31 but was extended on the request of states. Fowler said 10% of funds from the scheme were collected by the states. So far, N30billion has been recouped, he revealed.

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