The federal government and some foreign countries including the United Kingdom have started the automatic exchange of tax information (AETI), on overseas assets owned by Nigerians.
Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, made this known on Friday during the presentation of the progress report on tax laws reform by Taiwo Oyedele, Vice Chairman of the national tax policy implementation committee.
“The data received in Nigeria with regard to overseas assets held by Nigerians has been impressive and will underpin a long-term improvement in the nation’s tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ration, in turn, will improve life for the masses,” Oluyinka Akintunde, the minister’s spokesman, quoted her to have said.
“The data on bank accounts, property and trusts, which has come automatically from a number of countries is being used to support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by allowing the tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received.
“The federal government is also using the data to generate nudge letters which are being sent to those identified as being potential tax defaulters.”
According to Adeosun, letters have been written to request specific information about offshore accounts held by Nigerians.
She advised users of offshore structures to regularise their taxes using the VAIDS initiative before it expires.
“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,” he said.
“The moral argument against illicit financial flows and tax evasion and the strong international co-operation are such that every Nigerian taxpayer should do the right thing. The needs of our people for development override any other argument against payment of tax.”
She said the federal government would build a robust tax system and implement the recommendations by the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee (NTPIC) on tax laws reform.
Oyedele said the committee considered the economic recovery and growth plan (ERGP), the National Tax Policy and Ease of Doing Business plan to ensure that tax reforms align with government objectives.