FG detects 130,000 high net worth persons, firms in tax fraud
The Federal Government’s data mining strategy through the Federal Ministry of Finance has identified a new batch of over 130,000 high net worth individuals and companies that have potential tax underpayments.
The huge number is currently undergoing reviews, while the defaulters would face prosecution at the end of tax amnesty period unless they comply now.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, yesterday on a monitored programme tagged: “Good Morning Nigeria”, said the new data was part of the compilation in preparation to the closure of the ongoing Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), due March 31, 2018.
She ruled out an extension of the deadline, saying sufficient period had been given to tax payers to voluntary and truthfully declare their assets and income, which had not been previously declared.
Speaking on the importance of the expected recoveries, the minister said that just N1 million could feed over 14,200 primary school children under the Homegrown School Feeding programme, besides creating many jobs in the agricultural sector.
The new tax efforts under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Finance is being driven by data mining in the federal and state agencies and foreign countries through Project Lighthouse.
“The data have been received from a number of sources including land registries of the Governments of Lagos, Kaduna, Kano and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
“In addition, Nigeria has been able to request data from a number of nations including traditional tax havens. The data have been received from a number of foreign jurisdictions under the exchange of information protocols.
“Under the exchange of information protocols, this information relates to bank records and financial filings for tax purposes and is obtained from tax havens, who are signatories to the information sharing agreements such as British Virgin Islands and Mauritius,” she said.
She explained that the data received from overseas countries would only be used for taxation purposes in line with the protocols governing the exchange of information.
“The sole interest of the federal and state governments in the use of the data is in raising tax revenues. There is absolutely no hidden agenda on the use of the data,” she added.
She however, commended the “unprecedented” level of cooperation so far recorded between the federal and state governments, saying it was a marked change from the past when efforts were not aligned.
The minister identified the common violations by non-compliant tax payers to include: under-declaration of and non-declaration of income earned including income from government contracts and overseas trading; Collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) which is not duly remitted to FIRS; charging of non-allowable personal expenses to company accounts, particularly with reference to overseas school fees; and inconsistency between income declared for tax purposes and the value of assets owned.
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