‘VAIDS: Data, Information-sharing Agreements Will Expose Tax Dodgers’

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

Mr. Peter Ukonu of Financial Derivatives, gave the advice
in Lagos on Friday, at a one-day training workshop organised for tax professionals by the VAIDS office in the Federal Ministry of Finance.

In a presentation at the workshop, which held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Ukonu 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. He noted 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. He stated the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEoI), which kicks in on 1 January 2018, is one of such tools in the hands of tax authorities across jurisdictions.

On his part, Mr. Ayo Salami of KPMG Professional Services said that not everything declared by an individual will be taxed. He explained that tax authorities are aware that certain categories of money are not taxable. He, however, 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, also at the occasion, appealed to media to give people with tax liabilities the benefit of doubt in the hope that they would comply with VAIDS.