Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
Armed with vital documents on property owners across the country, the federal government appears set toÂ swoop on tax evaders with property in exclusiveÂ areas of the country, particularly in Abuja and Lagos.
First to come under the searchlight for tax evasion are property owners in Maitama, Asokoro, Garki ll and Wuse ll, all inÂ the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja as well as those in Banana Island and the environs, Magodo, Lekki, and Ikoyi in Lagos State.
A top presidency source disclosed yesterday that the federal government had already, viaÂ its data mining agency, â€œProject Lighthouseâ€Â taken possession of documents on property owners across the country, from state governments.
He disclosed that the first set of property owners to come under the searchlight for tax defaulting compliance are those with property in Maitama, Wuse ll, Asokoro, and Garki ll as well as those in Banana Island and environs, Magodo, Lekki, Ikoyi in Lagos State.
According to him, tax records and bank account details of these property owners are being reviewed by the team of â€œProject Lighthouse.
He said: â€œThe extension of the searchlight on these property owners is not unconnected with Illicit Financial Flow (IFF). Most of these people are diverting their incomes to properties and are not paying taxes.â€
Some state governments, the source added, in collaboration with the federal government had provided electronic searchable database for both individual and corporate property owners with such vital information as name of owner, plot number, location and Certificate of Occupancy (Cof O) number.
He stressed that the federal government wasÂ extending the searchlight to northern states, the South-east and South-south geopolitical regions, adding that the resort to focus on highbrow property was because â€œit has been observed that most of the taxpayersâ€™ lifestyles do not reflect in their tax payment.â€
The federal government had on July 1, 2017 launched a nine-month amnesty allowing taxpayers a grace period to regularise their tax statuses under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
Last week, it vowed to name, shame and prosecute tax evaders from April 1, 2018, at the expiration of the nine-month tax amnesty on March 31.
Under the VAIDS programme, state governments will be major beneficiaries of the programme because after the recovery, the money will go to the states, a major reason the states are cooperating with the federal government on the tax scheme.