Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has said that less than 20 per cent of contractors working for the Federal Government and its agencies actually disclose the income received in their tax returns.
Adeosun, who made this known in a statement released recently, said the lapse was discovered following the sampling exercise carried out by the Ministry of Finance. She said the Federal Government has started reviewing the tax compliance records of contractors who have received payments from it and its agencies in the last seven years.
“It was a matter of concern that those who earned money directly from government, which is both traceable and verifiable, still failed to pay the correct taxes thereon,” she said.
She also gave the assurance that the new multi-agency, data-driven approach will make it easier for tax authorities to cross check information provided in tax declarations to ensure that the correct taxes are paid.
According to the statement, the Ministry of Finance and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation are now compiling records of all payments exceeding N100 million made in the last seven years including details of the beneficiary bank accounts.
The statement also said that “all agencies have 30 days to return the information on payments made, and accounting officers are required to certify the accuracy of the data supplied. Deliberate omission or manipulation of data by accounting officers will attract sanction”.
According to the statement, a database project called Project Light House, which would build comprehensive profiles of tax payers using bank verification numbers, foreign exchange allocations, land registry records and information obtained from foreign governments, has commenced.
The data will be used to crosscheck information provided to tax authorities.
The minister said the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is committed to improving tax compliance as this is related to efforts being made to reduce dependence on oil.
She encouraged companies to take advantage of the concessions provided by the voluntary assets and income declaration scheme.