VAIDS: Don’t Test Our Resolve To Prosecute Tax Evaders After March 31- FG Warns

Photo Caption: Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (left); Managing Director, Nigeria Port Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman; Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, during an interactive session on Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme in Kaduna on Thursday, March 1, 2018.

The Federal Government says it has the political will prosecute tax evaders who fail to utilise the tax amnesty offered under its Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) before the March 31, 2018 deadline.
Under the amnesty programme which commenced in July last year, the Federal Government offered opportunity for Nigerians to regularise their tax profiles as part raising non-oil revenue, as well as increasing the tax-GDP ratio from the current 6%.
Speaking at the VAIDS Stakeholders Symposium in Kaduna on Thursday, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, according to a statement by Oluyinka Akintunde, her Special Adviser on Media & Communications, warned that tax evaders who fail to utilize the offer would be prosecuted, named and shamed.
“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,” she stressed.
On data sharing with foreign countries, the Minister assured that the information sourced would strictly be used for tax purposes, just as “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 added that the automatic exchange of information had become necessary to combat tax evasion and protect the integrity of tax systems, assuring of the government’s willingness to 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).
The VAIDS, according to her, has been strengthened by the data on financial accounts, property and trusts shared by other countries, urging offshore asset owners to utilise the VAIDS window to regularise their taxes before the end of the amnesty programme.
“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,” she added.
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai who also attended the event along with members of the State Executive Council, commended the collaboration between the Federal and State Governments on tax and promised to provide land ownership data to tax authorities at the Federal and State level, as part of measures to bring more income earners and asset owners into the tax net.
The Governor assured that the revenue from taxes would be judiciously used in improving the lives of residents of the State through investment in infrastructure, primary health an education.
The programme was also attended by the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Idris Ahmed; Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Babatunde Fowler; members of the State Executive Council, captains of industries and business owners.
The FIRS boss Chairman reinforced the need for Nigerians to join hands with the Federal and State Governments to improve the standard of living through compliance with tax payment.