The Federal Government has commenced Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI), on overseas assets held by Nigerians.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this while receiving Progress Report on Tax Laws Reform by the Vice Chairman of the National Tax Policy Implementation Committee, Mr. Taiwo Oyedele, in Abuja.
She expressed satisfaction with the data being supplied to Nigeria by foreign countries under the AETI.
Her words: “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.
“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.”
She disclosed that Nigeria had written to a number of nations to request specific information about offshore trusts and bank accounts held by its citizens.
Mrs. Adeosun urged users of offshore structures to take advantage of VAIDS to regularize their taxes before the expiry of the amnesty programme.
“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.
“The moral argument against illicit financial flows and tax evasion and the strong international co-operation are such that every Nigerian tax payer should do the right thing.
The needs of our people for development override any other argument against payment of tax,” she stated.
She stressed the need for a sustainable revenue that could deliver infrastructural development for Nigeria and improve the tax to GDP ratio of the country.
She assured that 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.
Earlier in his address, Mr. Oyedele, said the committee considered three major policy documents namely; the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the National Tax Policy and Ease of Doing Business Plan. He said seven major tax areas that would have the highest impact.
These include: Company Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT), Customs & Excise Tariff (CET), Personal Income Tax (PIT), Pension Contributions, Industrial Development Income Tax Relief (IDITR); and Tertiary Education Trust Fund.
Amaka E. Nliam