THE Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) office in the Federal Ministry of Finance has identified thousands of tax defaulters across the country and has written to them, requesting compliance before the expiration of the declaration period on 31 March.
According to VAIDS office, the defaulters, mostly high net-worth individuals (HNIs), were identified through transaction, income and assets data obtained from a variety of sources. Following the identification process, VAIDS office communicated with them via nudge letters to draw attention to their defective tax status.
The letters, the VAIDS office revealed, has elicited positive responses from recipients, with many of them visiting or phoning the office to request for more information on declaration and compliance.
VAIDS is currently sending out more letters to other identified defaulters based on transaction data obtained from the Corporate Affairs, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), state governments, Nigerian Customs Service, land registries, as well as payment platforms such as Government Integrated Financial and Management Information System and Remita in the case of tax-defaulting companies.
The scheme, which came into being last July, is a tax amnesty programme that provides a time-limited opportunity for tax defaulters to regularize their tax status. The Federal Government is offering, as part of the amnesty, freedom from penalties on owed taxes and tax audits as well as freedom from prosecution for taxpayers, who truthfully declare their liabilities. The scheme also offers defaulters the chance of spreading payments over a three-year period.
The period for declaration ends on 31 March, with the Federal Government saying there will no extension of the deadline and vowing to prosecute defaulters at the closure of the window.