By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – The Federal Government has started beaming its searchlight on tax evaders with properties located in the highbrow areas across the country.
The property owners that will come under scrutiny for tax compliance are owners of properties in Maitama, Asokoro, Garki ll, Wuse ll in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and those in Banana Island and its environs, Magodo, Lekki, Ikoyi in Lagos state.
Recall the Federal Government had on July 1, 2017 granted tax payers a nine months grace period to regularize their tax statuses under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
According to a reliable Presidential source, the federal government through its data mining agency “Project Lighthouse” had received documents on property owners across the country from state governments.
The source revealed to journalists that tax records and bank account details of these property owners are being reviewed by the team of “Project Lighthouse.
According to the source, “the 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.”
It was further disclosed that some state governments in collaboration with the federal government have provided electronic searchable data base for both individual and corporate property owners with the following key information: Name of owner, plot number, location and Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) number.
It was also revealed that the federal government is also extending the searchlight to the other northern states, the south east and the south-south regions.
The decision to go after highbrow property owners the source said is because “it has been observed that most of the tax payers life style does not reflect in their tax payment,” said the source.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun had last week, vowed to name, shame and prosecute tax evaders from April 1, 2018. Under the VAIDS programme, state governments will be major beneficiaries of the programme because after the recovery, the money will go to the states, which is why the states are cooperating with the federal government on the scheme.