There seems to be serious apprehension among some wealthy Nigerians as the federal government says it is investigating 150 of them, mostly tax defaulters.
The government said it engaged the services of Kroll, a United Kingdom-based forensic and assets-tracing organisation, to carry out this investigation.
We understand that part of the firm’s brief is to effectively trace the assets of the very wealthy Nigerians at home and abroad.
Punch reports that the names of 150 very wealthy Nigerians are on the first batch to be investigated, according to finance minister Kemi Adeosun. Adeosun revealed this while speaking with journalists on Thursday, July 13.
The minister however refused to name the other foreign organisations that would engage in the investigation of the wealthy Nigerians.
According to Adeosun, the country needed to match the lifestyle of the wealthy people with the amount of tax they were paying to the federal government.
“How much we recover from their purses is not as important as getting people into the tax net and paying the right taxes. “Majority of people who are paying taxes at the moment are the Pay As You Earn; most of the people whose taxes are being deducted at source.
“But the people who are evading taxes are either the people who own their businesses or the high net worth individuals. “And ordinarily, they are supposed to pay the biggest share of the tax revenue.
What is happening now is that the lower-end people are carrying more of the burden, which is unfair. “Everybody has to carry their fair share according to their level of income. That is how progressive taxes work all over the world.
“Remember that tax is one of the instruments the government uses to redistribute income; to take from the rich to support the poor.
“That is very fundamental. Not only do we recover money from the people, it (VAIDS) is meant to ensure that people pay the right taxes going forward.
“The firms that we are using to trace assets internationally are working alongside the projects that we have locally.
“And that project puts together records of property ownership, foreign exchange allocations, company ownership from the Corporate Affairs Commission, and even private jet registration so that we can build profiles of people so that we have an idea of how much tax should this person be paying according to his or her lifestyle.
“And then we compare it with how much tax they are actually paying, and that is giving us a lot of information that hopefully will encourage people to come forward to do the right thing,” she was quoted as saying.
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