We Will Name, Shame Tax Evaders Next Month – Adeosun

The Federal Government has revealed plans to aggressively go after tax evaders to prosecute them and publicly reveal their identities.

Through the Ministry of Finance, the Federal Government said tax evaders will be prosecuted, named and shamed using its the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which will end by March 31, this year.

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun said this on Thursday during the VAIDS Stakeholders symposium which held at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre, Murtala Square, in Kaduna State.

According to her, the Federal Government has the political will and data to go after tax evaders who fail to take advantage of the tax amnesty programme.

READ ALSO: US Secretary Of State To Visit Nigeria Next Week

“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.

“Many Nigerians cannot explain their lifestyles or match their lifestyles, assets and income with their tax payment,” she said.

VAIDS, Adesoun explained, has been strengthened by the data on financial accounts, property and trusts shared by other countries. She said the programme will aid in recovering funds to provide basic needs for Nigerians.

“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.”

Adeosun also said she is displeased with the six percent tax to gross domestic ratio for Nigeria. This, she explained is one of the  lowest in the world

“We cannot be in the bottom division when it comes to tax collection and expect to be in the premium when it comes to development, it can’t work and so, we must come together as one and do the right thing,” she said.

Lagos State To Go After Tax Evaders

After over four years of advocacy, the Lagos State Governor; Babatunde Fashola says it is now time for the state to go after tax evaders.

The governor noted that only 3 million out of the 8 million taxable people pay tax thereby putting the government under immense pressure to deliver on the numerous programmes it set out to do.

Though there is no new legislation on taxes in Lagos, however like the model canvassed during the recently conclude U.S. election, the rich will have to pay more in the state.

Justice Minister grants Lagos State permission to prosecute tax offenders

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, has granted the Lagos State government the executive fiat to prosecute tax offenders in the state under the Personal Income Tax Act.

Special Adviser to Governor Babatunde Fashola on Justice, Mr Lanre Akinsola, disclosed this yesterday at a briefing on tax compliance in the state.

“Last week Thursday, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice granted approval to the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, to prosecute tax defaulters or evaders. This means that if you don’t pay your tax, you will go to jail and will not be liable to hold any public office position,” he said.

He said any person or cor-porate organisation that fails to submit tax returns for last year by the end of this month has committed an offence.

Earlier, while justifying why Lagos needs to increase its internally generated revenue that was N16billion monthly last year, the Special Assistant to the Lagos state Governor on Taxation and Revenue, Mr Abimbola Sodipo, said the challenge was funding the 106 new projects to be executed by the state.

He said available data show that out of the 20million population of the state, eight million are workers but only 2 .7million pay tax, while 5.3million do not.

Noting that Lagos has adopted advocacy, enlightenment, awards and recognition, among others, to encourage payment of tax, he said: “Now we are moving to a vigorous enforcement level. We will prosecute and refuse to listen to any concessions or waivers.”

Chairman, Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), Tunde Fowler, said the days the state relied on Abuja for much of its revenue are over.

He said funds from the Federation Account accounted for only 51.14 per cent of the state revenue for 2007 while it decreased to 37 per cent last year.

He said if every taxable person pays his tax in the state monthly internally generated revenue would increase to N20billion and this would help to build more infrastructure.

He explained that in the government’s proactive effort to ensure compliance with the taxation policy, a total of 610 companies were sealed up between 2010 and 2011 with N1,334,519,040.73 billion recovered.

Fowler enumerated the various punishments for failure to pay the Personal Income Tax. He said failure by a banker to render returns, books, documents and information on demand within seven days attracts a fine of N500, 000 for a corporate body and N50,000 for an individual, while failure by banker to render information about new customer within 7 days attracts N500, 000 for corporate body and N50, 000 for an individual. For an employer of labour, the PITA states that failure to deduct or remit tax will attract 10 per cent of tax not deducted, plus interest at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monetary Policy Rate.