Nigeria pays 14 whistleblowers N439 million

For helping the federal government rake in N13.8 billion from tax evaders,14 whistle blowers have been rewarded with the sum of N439.276 million.

The informants tipped off government on the affected tax evaders ,Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun told reporters yesterday.

“The payment was made this week after the federal government received the sum of N13.8 billion from the affected tax evaders, mostly corporate organizations, based on tips from whistleblowers,” the minister said.

This reward is different from that given to those who provide information on stolen public funds.

By June 2017 a total N375.8 million had been paid to the first batch of 20 providers of information on stolen funds under the Whistleblower Policy.

The payment, of various amounts totalling N375,875,000, was in respect of the recovery of N11,635,000,000.

Government,according to Adeosun, is actively preparing cases for prosecution against tax evaders by the end of next month when the tax amnesty will end.

She said the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) is faring well as “we are getting far more tips on tax evasions, which of course is a crime against us all.”

She said that since the introduction of the VAIDS in 2017 to peacefully bring in more tax payers into the tax net to boost revenue, the Federal Government’s data mining efforts have identified over 130,000 high net worth individuals and companies that have potential tax underpayments issues against them.

The minister also told reporters of how some people she did not identify had tried to sell off over 100 government properties abroad.

She said the properties ,belonging to Nigeria’s foreign missions and federal government agencies, had been left out of an earlier audit by government officials who went round the world to take an inventory of such properties.

Some of the buildings were abandoned,she said,and “some people were trying to sell them off and we had to stop them.”

The buildings were only captured in a later audit.

Apart from the Whistleblower initiative, data is being compiled by Project Lighthouse, which is a unique project of the Federal Ministry of Finance that combines data from Federal and State agencies and overseas countries.

Adeosun once revealed that, “data have been received from a number of sources including land registries of the Governments of Lagos, Kaduna, Kano and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

“In addition, Nigeria has been able to request data from a number of nations including traditional tax havens. The data have been received from a number of foreign jurisdictions under the exchange of information protocols.

“Under the exchange of information protocols, this information relates to bank records and financial filings for tax purposes and is obtained from tax havens who are signatories to the information sharing agreements such as British Virgin Islands and Mauritius.”

“The data received from overseas countries would only be used for taxation purposes in line with the protocols governing the exchange of information.

The common violations by non-compliant tax payers include under-declaration of and non-declaration of income earned including income from government contracts and overseas trading; Collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) which is not duly remitted to FIRS; charging of non-allowable personal expenses to company accounts particularly with reference to overseas school fees; Inconsistency between income declared for tax purposes and the value of assets owned.

On the Budget, Adeosun was optimistic that by the end of this month, about N1. 5 trillion would have been spent on capital projects.

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