By Racheal Ishaya
Abuja – The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, on Saturday said that the Federal Government was currently considering the requests by the States and Private Sector for an extension of the tax amnesty programme, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
The tax amnesty programme, which expired on Saturday, offered a nine-month window of opportunity for tax payers to regularise their tax liabilities.
Adeosun, who responded to media enquiries in Abuja, said some states of the federation and the private sector had asked for an extension of the deadline in order to allow them more time to comply.
“The Federal Government is reviewing the numerous extension requests by the states and the private sector, which have cited some logistic challenges such as non-availability of the declaration forms in some states.
“They also said that the declaration of public holidays to commemorate Easter also cut short the amnesty period, ” She said.
The Minister said the tax evaders risk forfeiting their assets and prosecution as the government’s data mining unit in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Project Lighthouse, had compiled data of tax payers from land registries from 36 States and Federal Capital Territory.
“We have also received tremendous support from foreign countries which provided data under the exchange of information protocols.
“The data include bank records and financial filings for tax purposes,” she said.
The Project Lighthouse has identified the common violations by non-compliant tax payers to include under-declaration of and non-declaration of income earned including income from government contracts and overseas trading.
The government, through the project had also acquired data on collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) which was not duly remitted to FIRS and also inconsistencies between income declared for tax purposes and the value of assets owned.