Most Nigerians Who Pay Tax Are Low Income Earners – Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has given the importance of the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by the Federal Government saying most Nigerians who pay their tax are low-income earners.

The Finance Minister said those who pay tax in Nigeria are low-income earners and salary earners whose taxes are deducted at source.

Speaking on the issue of tax payment during her appearance on a special Channels Television programme, The Core, on Wednesday, Adeosun said VAIS is justified as it pursues Nigerians who earn and have acquired more assets and income.

“Most of the taxpayers we have in Nigeria today are salary earners. They are about 94% of our taxpayers. I think we have about 14million taxpayers and 13.5million are pay as you earn. So, those are people whose income tax is being deducted at source. These are largely low-income earner.

“So would it be fair for those who made the most and have the most to be forgiven? Because if we do that, then we should also refund those who have actually paid their taxes. In the spirit of fairness, we think it is right the way we designed it,” she said.

VAIDS is a Federal Government initiative for assets declaration and in exchange for fully and honestly declaring previously undisclosed assets and income, taxpayers benefit from forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties.

READ ALSO: We Will Name, Shame Tax Evaders Next Month – Adeosun

The Minister said VAIDS is user-friendly as those coming to declare assets enjoy agreement to make payment in installment.

She said the scheme is to hunt those making money and not paying tax.

“In our experience, we find out that those who have really stolen money do not come out to declare for tax. They hide under the radar.

“What we found out largely is that because our economy is so informal, there were just a large number of people making money and not paying anything over a long period of time,” she said.

VAIDS according to the Minister is a tax amnesty. She explained it basically require people who have complaint issue to declare fully and honestly. In exchange, they are not be prosecuted or audited or charged penalties. “It is a focus on tax and revenue generation,” Adeosun added.

Debunking allegations that the scheme is a tool by the Federal Government to witch-hunt political opponents, Adeosun said the VAIDS is not a political agenda but solely aimed at raising funds for the nation’s development.

“We are not following the money, we are not asking how much did you earn? We are saying, this asset, whether it’s in Nigeria or overseas, how did you fund it?.

“When it comes to tax, there is no Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or All Progressives Congress (APC). It is an equal opportunity, an amnesty. It is not a political tool, we want money to develop our country.”

The Minister of Finance has earlier revealed plans to aggressively go after tax evaders to prosecute them and publicly reveal their identities. She said on Thursday, March 1 during the VAIDS Stakeholders symposium at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Murtala Square, in Kaduna State that tax evaders will be prosecuted, named and shamed.

Oduah Supporters Storm Enugu Airport In Counter Protest

Activities at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu were temporarily grounded for few hours when a youth group under the aegis of Igbo Progressive Union stormed the airport on Saturday morning to protest against calls for the removal of Nigeria’s aviation minister, Stella Oduah.

While addressing newsmen during the protest, the leader of the group Emeka Agbo, said youths especially in the South East are prepared to do everything possible to protect Mrs Oduah.

The group argued that the aviation minister is innocent of the scandal against her as the purchase of the two armoured BMW vehicles the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) allegedly bought for her is in the best interest of the Aviation Sector.

According to the protesters, “some highly placed individuals especially her political detractors are the master minders of this evil seed as they are all out to tarnish the image and pedigree of the Minister.”

The protesters including young men and women carried placards with different inscriptions accusing some unnamed politicians of being behind the calls for the removal of the minister insisting that the intention of the cabal was to stop the minister from going ahead with her transformation agenda in the aviation sector.

There has been a public outcry against the purchase of the two vehicles which cost a total of N225 million. Hence, several groups and individuals have called for the Minister’s dismissal.

They argued that she has done so much in the Aviation Sector under the transformation agenda of President Goodluck and that she has affected so many lives during her tenure as the Aviation minister.

Also, the kinsmen of the embattled minister who were joined in the protest led by a George Nwabueze, traditional ruler from Ogbaru community, threw their weight behind the Aviation minister. They argued that the whole scenario is a political witch hunt by some people who are against the re-election of the President in 2015.

Meanwhile, a group under aegis of South East Progressive Assembly (SEPA) condemned the action of the protesters. And insisted that the aviation minister must resign honourably to avoid the wrath of tax payers of whom she used their money in purchasing the armoured bullet proof cars.

While addressing newsmen in Owerri the Imo state capital, the president of the South east progressive assembly Ebere Uzoukwa said the actions by the aviation minister showed that she’s not capable of running the affairs of the ministry and as such, she should resign and allow President Goodluck Jonathan to appoint capable hands from any other part of the country.

Although there has been calls from different quarters for the removal of the Aviation minister Stella Odua over the controversies trailing the purchase of two bullet proof cars for her by the Aviation Authority, NCAA, has insisted that purchase of the vehicle followed due process and the cars were part of the operational vehicles provided in the NCAA 2013 budget which is in line with NCAA condition of service.