The Federal Government is targeting to bring a total of four million fresh taxpayers into the tax net through the implementation of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme. The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, gave the figure at the ongoing Platform for Collaboration on Tax Conference at the United Nations in New York.
The VAIDs programme offers a grace period from July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, for tax defaulters to voluntarily pay back to government what they owe.
In exchange for full and honest declaration, the government promises to waive penalties that should have been levied and also waive the interest that should have been paid on overdue tax.
Also, those who declared their tax obligation honestly would not be subjected to any investigation or tax audit after the nine month grace period.
Adeosun explained that the VAIDS tax amnesty program was targeted at increasing the tax payer base, raising revenue and regularising the tax status of many Nigerians.
She noted that the scheme was aimed at raising at least $1bn for the government, adding that more Nigerians have indicated interest in taking advantage of the opportunity.
She said, “We are using technology to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the programme. Project Light House is using advanced data mining and data analytics techniques to identify tax defaulters, establish their tax liabilities and send notifications.
“The system-wide computer software, which drives Project Lighthouse, aggregates data from multiple sources such as bank accounts, land registry records, company registration data, tax filings, customs’ records, asset ownership records, among others, to identify, profile and track tax evaders.
In a statement last Friday from the minister’s Media Adviser, Oluyinka Akintunde, she said the Federal Government had engaged a leading international Asset Tracing and Investigation Agency to trace and track illicit flows and assets.
In addition, she said Nigeria had signed the Multilateral Competent Authority on Common Reporting Standards, which allows for exchange of financial account information.
The country, according to her, is expected to effect the first exchange by 2019 as soon as the domestic legal framework was completed.