Property owners in UK jostle to regularise tax records in Nigeria
• Wants FG to extend tax amnesty deadline
• We’ll not divert capital project funds for 2019 elections, says Adeosun
Nigerians who own property in the United Kingdom (UK) at the weekend jostled to regularise their tax records in Nigeria to save the forfeiture of their property to the UK Government under that country’s recently enacted Unexplained Wealth Order (UWOs) regulation.
This measure led to a collapse of hotline telephone numbers of government’s Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) in their desperate attempts.
A top shot of the VAIDS secretariat at the Federal Ministry of Finance speaking under condition of anonymity yesterday said the ministry was working hard to restore the crash system to enable the VAIDS secretariat carry on its function to tax payers requiring advisory services on their tax obligations before March 31, 2018 amnesty programme of the Nigerian government.
He explained that though the dedicated and confidential hotlines were provided to enable the booking of appointments, the weekend’s calls onslaught was more than the system could accommodate. There were frantic requests from them asking for extension of time to complete their VAIDS declaration forms.
The UK Government had last week introduced a new law that requires foreign owners of properties in the country to explain the source of their funds or risk forfeiting them to the government under the UWOs regime, ostensibly working in tandem with tax information sharing of Commonwealth countries of which Nigeria is a signatory.
According to the new law, the UWOs can be obtained for any property or combination of properties valued at just £50,000 (about N25 million) or more, for which the owner is unable to explain legal source of funds.
The official added that data already in the possession of the VAIDS office shows that many UK property owners have underpaid their taxes before transferring funds overseas to buy property.
The official noted that some of the apprehensive Nigerian property investors in UK stormed the Federal Ministry of Finance last Friday without appointments, requesting to see the minister and also the head of the VAIDS office.
Efforts made to speak with the spokesman of the Minister of Finance, Oluyinka Akintunde, were unsuccessful. Text messages sent to him were yet to be responded to as at the time of filing this report.
VAIDS allows Nigerian taxpayers to restate their income and assets without limit and thus could potentially allow those who own property that cannot be explained by their previously declared income to regularise by declaring and paying the correct taxes.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has assured that the Federal Government’s capital budget would be strictly deployed to fund infrastructural projects across the country, particularly the completion of ongoing projects, despite the forth coming 2019 general election.
In fact, she promised the retaining of the capital budget high percentage.
The Minister made this known in Abuja while representing Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at a lecture delivered to the National Defence College (NDC) Course 26 participants.
Adeosun maintained that the administration would not engage in the diversion of the capital project funds for the forthcoming elections.
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