We won’t pressure judges for tax judgment —FIRS boss
Judges handling cases of tax defaulters would not be pressured to give favourable judgments to government or forced to key into the effort to generate more funds for the government through taxes.
The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, gave the assurance while fielding questions in Abuja on Thursday at a media workshop on Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
Asked how confident he was that the Judiciary would cooperate with the government in adjudicating tax cases, he said: “We won’t influence judges on tax cases. They have their information and I am sure they will act on it.“
He also allayed fears that VAIDS data collected from individuals would be made available to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the purpose of prosecuting financial crime cases.
He said such data would be made confidential as has already been stated on the income declaration forms, noting that if EFCC wanted information, the commission has to seek it on its own.
The Chairman appealed to the media to help in the sensitization of the citizens to enable the scheme to achieve it objectives.
Speaking on the topic “VAIDS: A Tax Amnesty Programme in Action,” Albert Folorunsho, Managing Consultant, Pedabo Associate Limited, disclosed that the clergy would now be taxed on their personal incomes.
He explained that if any priest earns a personal income, such income was subject to tax but stressed that the taxation would not affect churches of mosques unless such houses of prayers were engaged in businesses.
According to him, “the clergy would be taxed if they earn a personal income. But that does not mean the churches would be taxed unless they operate businesses. It also depends on the type of business.”
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of the Joint Tax Board (JTB), Oseni Salawe Elamah, urged the media to ensure the success of the scheme.
While answering a question of non-remittances of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) deducted by media houses from their employees, he advised the employees to put pressure their employers or they would not be able to obtain tax clearance.
He also accused media houses of failing to remit to government monies collected as VAT on advertisements.