The Last Days Of VAIDS: Why Taxpayers Should Take Advantage Of The Amnesty Programme

LEGAL BASIS 

Whilst VAIDS does not have force of law since it is unenforceable on taxpayers for the period for which it is to operate, its establishment and operation are nonetheless well rooted in law. Essentially, and as the name implies, it is only a persuasive scheme providing a time-limited opportunity (a period of 9 months between July 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018) for taxpayers who are in default of their tax obligations to voluntarily come forward and truthfully declare their assets and income, comply with the regulations and guidelines and pay all outstanding taxes, in consideration of certain promises by the FGN including:

  • Waiver of interest and penalties for late payment;

  • Immunity from prosecution for tax offences;

  • Immunity from tax audit;

  • Option of spreading payment of outstanding liabilities over a maximum period of three years as may be agreed with the relevant tax authority. Provided however that the remission or waiver granted under the Executive Order/VAIDS shall not prejudicially affect or invalidate any court order or judgment already obtained in respect of any default in payment of tax for which interest and/or penalty have already accrued; and

  • A unique opportunity for tax payers who previously had held assets by nominees to have the assets transferred to their names without any penalty.

Looking at relevant tax laws, the Executive Order, the VAIDS and the tax amnesty granted thereunder derive legality and validity under the following statutory provisions: 

  • The President may remit wholly or in part any tax payable by any company if he is satisfied that it will be just and equitable to do so – Section 89, Companies Income Tax Act (“CITA”);

  • The President may, by Order, exempt any company or class of company from all or any provisions of the CITA or from tax at all – Section 23(2), CITA;

  • The FIRS Board has power to “remit the whole or any part ..” of the interest and penalty that may be due in respect of tax liability – Section 32(3), FIRS Act and Section 85(3), CITA;

  • The FIRS may compound any offence by accepting a lesser sum – Section 48, FIRS Act;

  • The FIRS Board may, with the approval of the Minister, make rules and regulations which “in his opinion is necessary or expedient for giving full effect to the provisions of the Act” – Section 61, FIRS Act;