The Muhammadu Buhari administration is stepping up the regulations on money laundering and tax evasion by releasing a new Executive Order tagged ‘Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme (VOARS).’The new Executive Order (008) takes effect from October 8, the day it was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to a spokesperson of Mr. Buhari, Garba Shehu, by the new order, Nigerian taxpayers who hold offshore assets and income are expected to, within a period of 12 months, declare voluntarily those assets and pay taxes on them.“When they do this, they should expect to derive certain specified benefits,” Mr Shehu said in a statement Wednesday.
He also said that according to the order, “any taxpayer who truthfully and voluntarily complies with the conditions of the scheme, pays a one-time levy of 35 percent 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 offenses 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 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.”
He said in accordance with the new order, the federal government, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, will set up a VOARS in Switzerland for all categories of taxpayers who have defaulted in the declaration of their offshore assets, payment of taxes due and collectible subject to the fulfillment of the terms and conditions as stipulated in the order, or any other subsequent complementary regulations that follow.