Kemi Adeosun, Minister of finance has said that the Federal Government is ready to prosecute, name and shame tax evaders that have failed to utilise the tax amnesty programme, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularise their tax profiles.
Adeosun disclosed this at the VAIDS Stakeholders Symposium held at the Umaru Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Murtala Square, in Kaduna State, saying that the federal government would prosecute tax evaders once the tax amnesty programme was over by March 31, 2018.
“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 said.
The minister, who also spoke on data sharing with foreign countries, noted that the information sourced would strictly be used for tax purposes.
She added that the automatic exchange of information had become necessary to combat tax evasion and protect the integrity of tax systems.
“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 however 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”, Adeosun said.
The Kaduna State Governor, who disclosed that he declared his assets in 2017, commended the collaboration between the Federal and State Governments on tax.
He 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 and education.
Meanwhile, the sensitisation programme was attended by the Governor of the State, Nasir el-Rufai; Accountant General of the Federation, Idris Ahmed; Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler; members of the State Executive Council, captains of industries and business owners.