FG Grants Amnesty To Tax Defaulters Of Undeclared Foreign Assets

The Federal Government will give amnesty to tax defaulters and permanent waiver of criminal prosecution for tax offences and offences related to offshore assets to those willing to voluntarily declare them. The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami disclosed this on Tuesday in Abuja at the unveiling ceremony of the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS). Malami explained that VOARS would also afford immunity from tax audit of declared and regularised offshore assets. The AGF added that the said the immunity would shield the owners from tax offences, penalties and interests concerning such declared offshore assets. He said that VOARS was a scheme that was initiated by the Swiss Consortium with a view to facilitating the regularization of offshore assets owned by Nigerians.
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari signed Executive Order 8 on the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme on Oct. 8, 2018. He said that the order served as the legal basis for the Swiss Consortium to approach third-party holders of the fund with the view of assessing information of the owners. The minister said that his office was collaborating with the Ministry of Finance, Accountant General of the Federation and the Federal Inland Revenue Service. Others are Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Central Bank of Nigeria and Debt Management Office. He said they were collaborating to develop a road map for implementation of the Executive Order 8, as well as a mechanism for taxation on funds to be declared by Nigerians as offshore assets.“It is expected that those funds owned by Nigerians that are not in the system will be voluntarily declared by the owners.  ” When Funds are voluntarily declared by the owners, the Federal Government of Nigeria will deduce thirty-five per cent (35%) recoveries. “Two and a half per cent (2 1/2%) will be charged as administrative fees for purpose of assessing the funds while sixty-three per cent (63%) will be registered in the system to become taxable in Nigeria.  “The Infrastructure fund will serve as a proposed investment facility, where the Federal Government of Nigeria will have a minimal investment, with the matching investments from banks and prospective international investors as well as Nigerians.” Holders of the 63 per cent who are expected to invest in this fund with the view of financing Nigerians infrastructure and bridging the deficient all attracting Foreign Direct Investment.” He urged Nigerians to support the initiative and key into it. On her part, the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed said that tax evasion had been a strong narrative, adding that the Federal Government had been very committed to working towards achieving better tax compliance amongst its citizens. She said the VOAR scheme would serve as an additional opportunity and mechanism for Nigerian citizens to continue to fulfil their tax obligations by extending the scope to offshore assets and foreign-sourced income. (NAN)

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