The Federal Government today said that its tax data mining initiative through the Ministry of Finance was yielding desired results with the identification of a new batch of over 130,000 high net worth individuals and companies that have potential tax underpayments.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this when she appeared on the ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme of the Nigerian Television Authority.
A statement by the Minister’s Special Adviser Media & Communications, Oluyinka Akintunde, quoted her as saying that the data is now being compiled by Project Lighthouse in preparation for the closure of the ongoing Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), which ends on 31st March, 2018.
Project Lighthouse is a project of the Federal Ministry of Finance that combines data from Federal and State agencies and overseas countries.
The minister clarified: “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”, Adeosun added.
The minister said that the data received from overseas countries would only be used for taxation purposes in line with the protocols governing the exchange of information, adding that “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.”
Adeosun also commended the ‘unprecedented’ level of cooperation between the Federal and State Governments, which she said was a marked change from the past when the various arms of Government did not align their efforts.
This is even as she 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; and collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) which is not duly remitted to FIRS.
Others are, 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.
Adeosun advised non-compliant tax payers to seek professional advice and to also consult relevant literature available from the tax authorities on tax rules.
While underscoring the Federal Government’s commitment to raising tax revenues which were essential to grow the economy and create jobs for Nigerians, the minister pointed out that just N1 million could feed over 14,200 primary school children under the Homegrown School Feeding programme as well as creating many jobs in the agricultural sector.
Asked if the Federal Government would extend the deadline of the tax amnesty programme, the Minister 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 declared previously.
Noting that revenue mobilisation remains potentially the master key to unlocking Nigeria’s huge growth potentials and funding the infrastructure programmes, the Minister assured tha the Federal Government would continue to create more fiscal space for reforms to enhance productivity and opportunity in the non-oil sector.