What is VOARS?
VOARS means Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme. President Muhammadu Buhari issued the Executive Order 008 called Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (“VOARS” or “the Scheme”) on 8 October 2018. The Scheme allows Nigerian taxpayers to declare their offshore assets and pay the corresponding taxes within 12 months. As a form of tax amnesty, Nigerian taxpayers who fulfill these requirements are free from tax persecutions and related penalties.
Objectives of the Scheme are;
- reduce money laundering
- lower tax evasion and collect outstanding taxes
- encourage voluntary compliance
- aid prompt regularization of foreign assets and income associated with Nigeria
- create a more revenue for Nigeria and finance the Nigeria Infrastructure Fund in Switzerland
Who can apply for VOARS?
The scheme covers all individuals, companies, and their intermediaries who are yet to fulfill tax obligations on their offshore assets. This includes;
- those who are not currently under investigation by law enforcement agencies in Nigeria or any other country and
- those who have not embezzled public funds or have not acquired assets abroad through fraudulent practices
Does VOARS apply to Nigerian taxpayers who live outside Nigeria?
Nigerian taxpayers living within or outside Nigeria can take part in the Scheme. This is irrespective of where such individuals or entities are currently located. The initial plan is to create VOARS office in Switzerland while other avenues for declaration (if any) may be announced in the coming weeks. Also, persons in the Diaspora can appoint a local agent for expert guidance.
Nigeria is a signatory to the CRS. This means that the exchange of financial account information between Nigeria and foreign countries is automatic. CbCR also allows Nigeria to share taxpayer’s information with other jurisdictions.
What are the benefits of VOARS?
In line with this order or any regulations issued later, a taxpayer who complies with the conditions of the Scheme;
- and pays a single levy of 35 percent on the gross value of offshore assets or
- settles all taxes, fines, and interest after a forensic audit of the foreign assets and income
will be free from prosecution for tax offences, similar offences on offshore assets, among others.
How and Where can I apply for VOARS?
The FGN, through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, will establish VOARS office in Switzerland for taxpayers who are yet to declare their foreign-based assets. Details of other channels of application, extra offices, and the prescribed forms may be released later.
When is the deadline for VOARS in Nigeria?
The declaration started on 7 October 2018 and will end in 12 months. Anyone who declare their assets and pay taxes before 7 October 2019 is free from prosecution for tax offences.