Against the increasing complaints of negative tax burden on small businesses, the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME) has called on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to take advantage of opportunities offered tax payers through the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularize their tax status to avoid prosecution for tax offences.
The deadline for this expired last week, and the tax authorities say they are ready to prosecute offenders including small business owners with effect from July, 2018.
President and Chairman of Council of NASME, Mr. Degun Agboade, made the call during a tax compliance clinic/sensitization programme by the Association for MSMEs to understand the requirements and benefits of VAIDS.
He said that Lagos and Edo States are the two focal states of the sensitization programme, adding that all hands must be on deck to meet up the deadline of the scheme.
VAIDS is a time-limited opportunity for taxpayers to regularize their tax status relating to previous tax periods and pay any taxes due which entitles a taxpayer to benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties, and escape criminal prosecution for tax offences or tax investigations.
Speaking at the event, Executive Secretary, Joint Tax Board, Mr. Oseni Elamah, said in spite of the fact that Nigeria has some of the most profitable and well capitalized companies and individuals, the tax remittance rate is still low, adding that the nation’s low tax revenue is inconsistent with lifestyles and spending habits of a large number of citizens.
He pointed out that the VAIDS is a project by the federal government aimed at providing opportunity for corporate bodies and individuals to regularize their tax status relating to previous tax periods, stressing that under the scheme, tax payers are given the opportunity to benefit from total waiver of outstanding and overdue interests and penalties.
“They also stand to benefit from the assurance that they will not face criminal prosecution for tax offences or be subjected to further tax investigations,” he stated.
Elamah also said that VAIDS would provide an opportunity to increase general tax awareness and compliance among the general public, saying that to profit from the scheme, taxpayers will be required to fully and honestly declare previously undisclosed assets and income revenues.
“Many are engaged in transfer of assets overseas, use of offshore companies in tax havens and registration of assets in nominee names,” he added.