The federal government has granted tax amnesty and permanent waiver of criminal prosecution to owners of offshore assets that are willing to voluntarily declare them.
At a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, to unveil the Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS), the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, said the immunity would shield the owners from tax offences, penalties and interests concerning such declared offshore assets.
The AGF explained that the VOARS was a scheme that was initiated by the Swiss Consortium with a view to facilitating the regularization of offshore assets owned by Nigerians.
The AGF further explained that the Executive Order 8 on the VOARS that was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, on October 8, served as legal basis for the Swiss Consortium to approach third party holders of the fund with the view of assessing information of the owners.
He said the third party include 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 road map for implementation of the Executive Order 8, as well as mechanism for taxation on Funds to be declared by Nigerians as offshore assets.
Speaking during the event, Malami stated: “It is expected that those funds owned by Nigerians that are not in the system will be voluntarily declared by the owners”.
He said: “Please note further that when Funds are voluntarily declared by the owners, the federal government of Nigeria will deduce thirty-five percent (35%) recoveries while two and half percent (2 1/2%) will be charged as administrative fees for purpose of assessing the funds while sixty-three percent (63%) will be registered in the system to become taxable in Nigeria.
“I wish to solicit the cooperation of all Nigerians to key into this initiative. Just like the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), the rationale for the 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 thirty (30) years of assessment and in return obtain some benefit like: “Permanent waiver of criminal prosecution for tax offences and offences related to the offshore assets, penalties and interests concerning such declared offshore assets”.
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