VAIDS: Nigeria To Name, Prosecute Tax Evaders In April
If you have been evading tax in Nigeria, it is time for reckoning and get ready because the government will put your name in the public, shame you and then prosecute you at the end of the day.
This was a tough statement from the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun on Thursday.
The punishment will come to persons who have failed to utilise the tax amnesty programme, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), to regularise their tax profiles, Mrs. Adeosun stated.
This tax amnesty programme will end on March 31.
She also disclosed that 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).
This plan to name, shame and prosecute evaders was made known at the VAIDS Stakeholders Symposium held at the Umaru Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Murtala Square, in Kaduna State.
The sensitisation programme was attended by the Executive Governor of the State, Mr Nasir el-Rufai; Accountant General of the Federation, Mr Idris Ahmed; Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Babatunde Fowler; members of the State Executive Council, captains of industries and business owners.
Adeosun stated that the Federal Government had the political will to prosecute tax evaders once the tax amnesty programme was over by March 31, 2018.
She said: “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.”
On data sharing with foreign countries, the Minister noted that the information sourced would strictly be 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,” a statement by her spokesman, Oluyinka Akintunde, quoted her as saying.
According to her, 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.
She advised 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 urged.