FG pays 14 whistle-blowers N439m

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

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 whistle-blowers,” 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 Whistle-blower 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 Whistle-blower 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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