The Federal Government has reiterated its warnings to Nigerians who evade tax under the offshore tax shelter system, saying such regime is over going by the ongoing reforms.
It however, advised users of offshore structures to take advantage of the ongoing Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularise their taxes before the expiration of the amnesty programme.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who gave the warning, affirmed that Nigeria had written to a number of nations to request specific information about offshore trusts and bank accounts held by its citizens.
“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.
“The moral argument against illicit financial flows and tax evasion and the strong international co-operation are such that every Nigerian tax payer should do the right thing. The needs of our people for development override any other argument against payment of tax,” she stated.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has begun the data-sharing scheme with some countries, including the United Kingdom, in its avowed strategy discover hidden taxable assets and increase non-oil revenue.
The move, under the Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI), particularly aimed at overseas assets held by Nigerians, would complement the ongoing VAIDS programme. Adeosun confirmed this at the weekend, in Abuja, during the presentation of Progress Report on Tax Laws Reform by the Vice Chairman of the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee (NTPIC), Taiwo Oyedele.
She expressed satisfaction with the data being supplied to Nigeria by foreign countries under the AETI at the moment, just after becoming a party to it last month.
“The data received in Nigeria with regard to overseas assets held by Nigerians has been impressive and will underpin a long term improvement in the nation’s tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ration, in turn, will improve life for the masses.
“The data on bank accounts, property and trusts, which has come automatically from a number of countries is being used to support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by allowing the tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received.
“The Federal Government is also using the data to generate ‘nudge’ letters which are being sent to those identified as being potential tax defaulters,” she said.
Similarly, Oyedele, while presenting the progress report on tax reforms, said the committee considered three major policy documents- the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the National Tax Policy and Ease of Doing Business Plan in course of their work.