Tax evasion: FG, states, go after property owners

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The Federal Government on Monday extended its searchlight on tax evaders with properties in highbrow areas of the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Federal Government had on July 1, 2017, granted tax payers a nine months grace period to regularise their tax statuses under the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme.

A Presidency source told newsmen on Monday in Abuja, that the Federal Government through its data mining programme tagged “Project Lighthouse’’ had received documents on property owners across the country from state governments.
According to the source, the  first set of property owners to come under scrutiny for tax compliance are owners of properties in Maitama, Asokoro, Garki ll, Wuse ll in the Federal Capital Territory.

Also those with properties in Banana Island and its environs, Magodo, Lekki and Ikoyi in Lagos state would be investigated.

The source also revealed that the Federal Government was also extending the searchlight to the Northern states, the South East and the South-South regions.
The source said that tax records and bank account details of these property owners were presently being reviewed by the team of “Project Lighthouse”.
The source said: “The extension of the searchlight on these property owners is not unconnected with Illicit Financial Flow.

“Most of these people are diverting their incomes to properties and are not paying taxes.”
It was further disclosed that some state governments had also provided electronic searchable data base for both individual and corporate property owners.
According to the source, the  state governments have provided information such as name of owner, plot number, location and Certificate of Occupancy number.
The Federal Government had recently vowed to name, shame and prosecute tax evaders from April 1, 2018, after the expiration of the grace period provided by the VAIDs programme.
Under the VAIDS programme, state governments will be major beneficiaries of the programme as after the recovery, the money will go to the states.
This is why the states are cooperating with the Federal Government on the scheme.

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