FG to make street beggars pay tax

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Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has revealed plans by the Federal Government to start collecting tax from alms beggars in the country.

While speaking at a lecture on Thursday in Lagos , the Minister described proceeds from begging as “taxable.”

She noted that now that government was looking to increase its streams of income by building a non-oil economy, collecting taxes from various sources was not out of place.

“We are making efforts to build an economy where we have oil and other things. It is going to be oil plus and wider economy,” Mrs Adeosun disclosed at the event organised by PwC Business Academy.

The seminar, tagged ‘Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) Interactive Session for Executives and Business Owners,’ was attended by several stakeholders in the private sectors.

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The Minister noted that she was in Lagos to continue to massive tax awareness in country and urged individuals and business owners to take advantage of the tax amnesty of the government, which ends on March 31, 2018.

The VAIDS was introduced by the government at the end of last month to allow residents of Nigeria to willingly regularise their tax affairs without punishment.

The Minister, at the Lagos lecture, pointed out that some people were earning millions from begging and noted that it was fair they paid taxes to the government.

“You are supposed to pay taxes even if your means of income is begging,” Mrs Adeosun told the gathering.

Begging is fast becoming a lucrative profession in Nigeria and it is common to see destitute in cities across the country and they sometimes harass people for alms.

Some state governments had taken steps to take them away from streets, markets and roads, but they had always found their way back.

In some cases, these beggar have had to protest against being arrested by security operatives.

In 2012, several beggars in Lagos State stormed the Lagos State Government Secretariat and the House of Assembly to protest “undue harassment” and plans to ban their activities by the state government.

Last year, the Lagos State government said it evacuated a total of 1, 340 beggars in 12 months.

Lately, another category of wanderers has emerged and they are called executive beggars.

This set of beggars dress corporately, but pretend to be short of cash to move from one location to another. They ask for cash support for transport and when given, they go to the next person with the same story.