Data, information-sharing agreements will expose tax dodgers, say experts


Tax defaulters and prospective taxpayers have been advised to seize the opportunity provided by the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) or risk having themselves exposed through data and a series of information-sharing agreements to which Nigeria is a signatory.

The advice was given in Lagos yesterday at a one-day training workshop organised for tax professionals by the VAIDS office in the Federal Ministry of Finance.                              

In a paper presented at the workshop, held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Mr. Peter Ukonu of Financial Derivatives warned that the availability of data from various sources makes it difficult for tax dodgers to evade the attention of tax authorities.

Ukonu said data had always been available, but not as integrated as they now are, noting that cooperation among government agencies and tax authorities at federal and state levels has ensured a profusion of data on incomes and assets, which would be matched with lifestyle to yield a full picture of the tax status of an individual or corporate entity.  

Another speaker at the event, Mr. Yomi Olagbenro of Deloitte, observed that tax avoidance, especially for those with incomes and assets outside Nigeria, has been made more difficult.

He explained that the range of international instruments, which Nigeria is part of, facilitates the sharing of information among tax authorities even without request.

Olagbenro stated the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEoI), which kicks in on January 1, next year, is one of such tools in the hands of tax authorities across jurisdictions.

Mr. Ayo Salami of KPMG Professional Services said not everything declared by an individual would be taxed.He explained that tax authorities are aware that certain categories of money are not taxable, but urged the taxpayers to truthfully declare to comply with VAIDS, which is a time-limited opportunity for taxpayers to put their tax affairs in order.              

Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, appealed to the media to give people with tax liabilities the benefit of doubt in the hope that they would comply with VAIDS.





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