The Federal Government has stepped up its revenue drive as President Muhammdu Buhari this week signed the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS) into law.
I have signed a new Executive Order (EO 008), the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS), mandating Nigerian taxpayers who hold offshore assets and incomes to, within a period of 12 months, voluntarily declare those assets and pay taxes on them.
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) October 10, 2018
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media Garba Shehu disclosed this in a Facebook.
Highlights of the new law
Nigerian taxpayers who hold offshore assets and incomes are expected to, within a period of 12 months, declare voluntarily, those assets and pay taxes on them.
“Any taxpayer who truthfully and voluntarily complies with the conditions of the scheme, pays a one-time levy of 35 per cent on the total offshore assets or pays all outstanding taxes, penalties and interest after forensic audit of their offshore assets and income shall obtain immunity from prosecution for tax offences and offences related to offshore assets, among others.
“Equally, failure of any defaulting taxpayer to take advantage of this scheme shall, at the expiration of the scheme result in an investigation and enforcement procedures concerning offshore assets anywhere in the world pursuant to information now readily available through automatic exchange of information between Nigeria and foreign countries.
Tightening the net
The new law is part of efforts to raise revenue. The then Acting President, Yemi Osinbanjo last year signed the Voluntary Asset Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
VAIDS was a 9-month window of opportunity for taxpayers who owe taxes to voluntarily declare their Asset and Income from within and outside Nigeria, and pay taxes due on them while in return they get some benefits.
The scheme largely underperformed as roughly N30 billion was raised as at July this year.
The government is largely dependent on earnings from crude oil but has increasingly pushed for diversification, to serve as a buffer from price and supply shocks.