Business owners mount pressure on Buhari to extend tax amnesty deadline

As the tax amnesty under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme ends on Saturday (today), some private sector players are said to be lobbying President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the period.

An official at the Presidency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday that governors and company owners had called the President and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to push for the extension of the programme.

“We are expecting Mr President to make an announcement on the tax amnesty deadline by this weekend. To be frank, nobody knows whether the President will decide to extend it or not, but there have been calls by state governors and key private sector players for the extension.

“However, it still remains unclear if the President will take the recommendation to extend it by another three months, since he had been advised otherwise by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; and the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Adamawa State Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Mahmoud Yunusa, told NAN that many of the states were in support of extending the tax amnesty beyond the March 31 deadline.

He said, “It should be extended because people are just beginning to buy into the programme. We see people coming up willingly to declare their assets and it shouldn’t end soon. Nigerians deserve more time and I believe that some of them are still collating their assets to know their worth before doing so.

“Also, some haven’t declared because they operate businesses without any formal documentation; so, it will take time before they get their books in order. So, it’s my opinion that extending it for another six months would ensure better success.”

Yunusa lauded the programme, saying that in Adamawa State, it had helped the state to improve its Internally Generated Revenue by more than 200 per cent despite still recovering from insurgency and recession.

Also, an economist, Mr. Tunde Dare, held the view that the VAIDs programme should be extended.

“Even though I think the programme should be extended, I think the government went about this business of tax amnesty the wrong way. I think the scheme should be aimed at capturing more people into the scheme without asking them to pay backlog of taxes,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the last working day before the expiry of the programme, many accountants and lawyers stormed the offices of the FIRS to submit applications of their clients.

NAN gathered that many tax defaulters, who had thought that the amnesty programme would be extended, were making last minute efforts to key into the scheme.

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