The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Monday said the Federal Government would rely heavily on technology to increase tax compliance under the recently launched Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme.
The VAIDS was launched last week by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to provide tax defaulters with a nine-month amnesty period within which to settle their tax liabilities without having to pay interest, penalties or face prosecution.
Adeosun, according to a statement signed by the Director of Information in the ministry, Salisu Dambatta, said the signing of the executive order by Osinbajo on asset declaration underscored the seriousness attached to the scheme, which would be vigorously implemented.
The minister stated that at six per cent, Nigeria’s tax to Gross Domestic Product ratio was very low compared to other countries that had as much as 32 per cent.
She said, “Prosperous nations have high levels of tax compliance, whilst poor nations have low rates. Nigeria aspires to be a prosperous nation, so this problem must be solved.
“Technology has been key in enabling us to build an accurate financial profile for Nigerians and based on the information we gathered, we saw that the level of non-compliance was very high and we knew we had to do something about it.
“In the past, tracking true income and assets would have been difficult but now, it is at the touch of a button.”
Adesoun stated that the government would be getting more information about taxpayers from next year under the Automatic Exchange of Information, to which Nigeria is a party.
Nigeria, she added, would automatically get information from the tax authorities of various countries through the partnership.
She added, “What VAIDS is doing is giving taxpayers, both companies and individuals, a window of opportunity to regularise, to come clean so to speak, to declare fully and to declare honestly.
“In exchange for full and honest declaration, what we are assuring is that we will waive penalties that should have been levied and waive the interest that should have been paid on overdue tax, which is quite considerable; those who declare honestly will not be subject to any investigation or tax audit.”