Finally, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) is coming to an end, after 3 months’ extension from 1 April 2018 to 30 June 2018. As it is not anticipated that the Federal Government will grant further extension, affected taxpayers should, by now, have taken advantage of the tax amnesty programme to regularize their tax position, or would do so before the curtain is drawn on Friday, 29 June 2018.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the collaboration between the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on enforcement of tax compliance against tax defaulters from 1 July 2018 is a warning signal to the concerned taxpayers that it will not be business as usual post-VAIDS. Establishment of specialized tax courts to expedite the prosecution of tax offenders is another option that the Federal Government is considering. While actualizing this will require an Act of the National Assembly, it is hoped that the Government will, without further delay, administratively reconstitute the Tax Appeal Tribunal to fill the current vacuum in tax dispute resolution, arising from expiration of the tenure of the last set of Tax Appeal Commissioners two years ago.
As VAIDS winds down, a lot is at stake for the Government. Its ability to muster the political will required to prosecute tax offenders based on their data in its possession will determine its genuine commitment to its vision of raising tax-to-GDP ratio from 6% at the end of 2017 to 15% by 2020. In addition, it must be ready for accountability to taxpayers whose expectations by virtue of its social contract with them will be higher after voluntarily paying their taxes. Lastly, it is hoped that as the Government demonstrates fiscal responsibility in the use of taxpayers’ money, the culture of voluntary tax compliance will become firmly rooted in Nigeria. Time will tell, sooner than later!
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