By Racheal Ishaya
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, says the Federal Government, will name and shame tax defaulters after the expiration of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
Adeosun disclosed this at an interactive session on the VAIDS programme on Thursday in Kaduna.
She said that the Federal Government had the political will to prosecute tax evaders once the tax amnesty programme was over by March 31.
She urged the people to take advantage of the scheme and regularise their tax payments.
“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, since they refused to take advantage of the opportunity,” she said.
Adeosun reiterated that the government had data on individuals and companies that owed taxes.
She, however, stated that the data would not be used to witch hunt any person in the country.
She assured the public that the information they had acquired such as accounts, land and other assets through the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information with other countries would be used solely to collect taxes.
Adeosun said 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.
“This is so that we can fund the needs of the masses and create jobs and wealth for our people,” she said.
Also, the state Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who disclosed that he declared his assets in 2017, commended the collaboration between the Federal and State Governments on tax.
He pledged to provide land ownership data to tax authorities at the Federal and State levels, 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 to improve the lives of the residents of the state through investment in infrastructure, primary health and education.
Similarly, Mr Babatunde Fowler, Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) 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.
Dignitaries at the event include, Alhaji Idris Ahmed, Accountant General of the Federation; members of Kaduna State Executive Council, captains of industries and business owners.(NAN)