Tax amnesty and permanent waiver of criminal prosecution for owners of offshore assets who voluntarily declare them were dangled today by the Federal Government in a bid to expand the tax net.
The Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme, VOARS, is coming on the heels of Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration scheme last year which government claimed was highly rewarding. Abuhe
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami said that the immunity would shield the owners from tax offences, penalties and interests concerning such declared offshore assets.
He said VOARS has the support of the Swiss Government to facilitate the regularization of offshore assets owned by Nigerians. “It is expected that those funds owned by Nigerians that are not in the system will be voluntarily declared by the owners.
He urged Nigerians to key into the initiative. “Just like the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, the rationale for VOARS is to provide an opportunity for taxpayers or amnesty for tax defaulters to voluntary declare their offshore assets and income from sources outside Nigeria relating to the preceding 30 years of assessment.
“In return obtain some benefits like: Permanent waiver of criminal prosecution for tax offences and offences related to the offshore assets, penalties and interests concerning such declared offshore assets, immunity from tax audit of the declared and regularized offshore assets; waiver of interest and penalties on the declared and regularized offshore assets,” he explained.
Malami said the Executive Order 8 on the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme that was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on October 8 serves as a legal basis for the Swiss Consortium to approach third party holders of the fund with a view of assessing information of the owners.
He tasked third agents as banks, estate managers, auditors, accountants, amongst others, adding that his office is collaborating with the Ministry of Finance, Accountant-General of the Federation, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Central Bank of Nigeria and Debt Management Office to develop a roadmap for the implementation of Executive Order 8, as well as a mechanism for taxation on funds to be declared by Nigerians as offshore assets.