The Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) would now be making use of technology to make it impossible for wealthy Nigerians to evade tax payment if they refuse to take advantage of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS). VAIDS offers tax defaulters a window to declare their indebtedness and escape tax interests and penalties as well as prosecution.
Building a revenue assurance platform, the LIRS, in collaboration with relevant authorities,will make use of available information, locally and internationally, through technology to expose those underpaying and evading tax.
Data from various sources which includes Bank Verification Number (BVN), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), land allocation and land ownership records, foreign exchange allocation returns, and bureau de change records.
Others are Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS), information from foreign governments as well as whistleblower tips and leaks. Also, it will be making use of confidential information from foreign governments with the recently passed Unexplained Wealth Order in the UK, Wikileaks, Panama Papers and Automatic Exchange of Information (AEoI), to which Nigeria is signatory to. This is to ensure that tax evaders have nowhere to hide.
The Chairman, Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS), Hamzat Zubair said,
There is what we call Project Lighthouse and it has to do with data mining. We are looking at several sources of information and trying to develop and bring out certain data on all taxpayers. For instance, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has information on all payments above N10 million. This means all the people that have had transactions in multitudes of N10 million are known.
With all of these methods, the LIRS would be able to build up data on taxpayers, with which they can be profiled for their unpaid taxes. In addition, people who work abroad or reside in Nigeria would be asked to file their taxes.
VAIDS, a nine-month tax amnesty programme of the Federal Government, in conjunction with state tax authorities, ends on 31 March.