VAIDS: Nigeria Will Prosecute Tax Defaulters After March—Minister
By the time the current tax amnesty expires on March 31st, 2018, Nigeria will publish the names of tax defaulters and consequently take legal actions against them.
Nigeria is currently running a tax amnesty programme titled: Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) where those owing interests on taxes are encourages to come up voluntarily and pay the actual tax owed while the interest and penalty are waved.
The programme started on July 1st, 2017 and will end on March 31st, 2018.
In an interview with Vanguard newspaper, Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, said those who defy government’s olive branch will not go unpunished.
“What then will be the advantage to those who complied with the scheme if we don’t prosecute? We must name and shame the defaulters after the deadline. We will definitely prosecute them. In addition, the worst court is that of public opinion. So we have about 500 letters ready, when I spoke to two people that I know of the 500 people, they were begging me to give them the letter personally.
“The truth is that people don’t want to be embarrassed. Tax evasion is a criminal offence and we will prosecute evaders after March 31, 2018. Do you reckon you may have to deal with a significant number of people not complying? It will be very disappointing if a large number of people that should comply do not.
“That will mean that this work of getting the message out has failed. We are using every means, namely; social media, videos, adverts, website. We have done a lot to get the message out. When we were designing this program, the team went to Indonesia, Turkey, India and other countries that have done big tax amnesties; we found out that once people know you have the data, they will comply. Lagos, Ogun state and FCT have given us their Land registry.
“We have also gotten data from CAC, FIRS, SEC, CBN, Remita, NIBBS, FRSC, NCAA, among others. There is really no hiding place, frankly. We are in no hurry. Nigerians have until March to declare, while the government has from March going forward to prosecute”, said Adeosun.