FREEPRESS – Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday signed an executive order that makes payment of taxes mandatory for Nigerians at all levels.
The executive order signed during the official launch of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) in Abuja is expected to also facilitate tax collection by revenue generating agencies in the country.
The Acting President explained that taxation has always been the basis of raising funds around the world, but lamented that majority of Nigerians do not pay tax, a situation he said “is at variance with our economy as we are estimating that almost 70 million Nigerians are economically active. This means that just 20 per cent of people involved in any form of business or the other registered and are paying taxes.”
“Despite having some of Africa’s wealthiest people whose lifestyles are the subject of global discussion, only 214 Nigerians pay taxes of N20 million or more each year. A personal tax of N20 million implies an income of N80 million a year with majority of them based in Lagos State.
“We must change our way of paying tax. Tax evasion is not just a civil matter but is also a crime.”
He said when people pay taxes, they develop the attitude of paying attention to what government does with their money.
Osinbajo lamented that the current situation in the country was that a greater percentage of Nigerians paying taxes were those engaged in formal employment.
The acting president declared that every Thursday of the week, beginning from yesterday would be observed as ‘Tax Day’ in the next one year.
He explained that VAIDS, which would be operated initially from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 would be supported by the executive order and will offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to those in default to regularise their tax affairs.
Osinbajo who assured Nigerians that funds paid to government through taxes would be use to provide services, also encouraged Nigerians to come up and take the commitment of government seriously.
Osinbajo said it was this background that informed government’s decision to recruit and train 7,500 Community Tax Liaison Officers to go into every community and educate Nigerians on the tax system and the duty it imposes on every economically active citizen.
He charged state governments to organize sensitisation events that would raise the level of awareness of the tax system and result in massive enrolment of taxpayers.