The Federal Government will name and shame tax defaulters after the expiration of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), Finance Minister Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has assured.
She said the government will go a step further to prosecute whoever failed to take advantage of the tax amnesty programme – the VAIDS – to regularise his/her tax profile.
The minister was quoted to have assured foreign countries that any information volunteered to “the Federal Government would strictly adhere to the confidentiality of the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters, in line with the guidelines of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”
In a statement, Mrs. Adeosun’s media aide, Oluyinka Akintunde, said the minister made disclosure at a symposium orgarnised yesterday in Kaduna for VAIDS stakeholders.
Adeosun stated that the government has the political will to prosecute tax evaders after the expiration of the tax amnesty programme by March 31.
She said: “We will close VAIDS at the expiration of the programme on March 31, 2018. And once the programme is closed, we will name and shame and also prosecute tax evaders.
“The Federal Government has the political will and data to go after tax evaders who fail to take advantage of the tax amnesty programme.
“Many Nigerians cannot explain their lifestyles or match their lifestyles, assets and income with their tax payment.
“We will close VAIDS at the expiration of the programme on March 31, 2018. And once the programme is closed, we will name and shame and also prosecute tax evaders, since they refused to take advantage of the opportunity.”
On data sharing with foreign countries, the minister noted that the information sourced would be strictly used for tax purposes.
“The guideline requires that the automatic exchange of financial account information must be specifically designed with residence jurisdictions’ tax compliance in mind rather than be a by-product of domestic reporting for it to be effective”, she said.
She added that the automatic exchange of information had become necessary to combat tax evasion and protect the integrity of tax systems.
The VAIDS, according to her, has been strengthened by the data on financial accounts, property and trusts shared by other countries.
The urged offshore asset owners to utilise the VAIDS window to regularise their taxes before the end of the amnesty programme.
Her words: “The offshore tax shelter system is basically over. Those who have hidden money overseas are being exposed and whilst Nigerians can legally keep their money anywhere in the world, they must first pay any taxes due to the Nigerian Government so that we can fund the needs of the masses and create jobs and wealth for our people.”
In his remark, Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasir el-Rufai said he had declared his assets last year, he lauded the collaboration between the federal and state governments on tax.
He pledged to provide land ownership data to tax authorities at the federal and state levels, as part of measures to bring more income earners and asset owners into the tax net.