The OECD Multilateral Instruments
On 17 August 2017, Nigeria became a signatory to the OECD’s Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) (‘Multilateral Instrument’ or ‘MLI’) and the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement for the Common Reporting Standard (CRS MCAA).
Nigeria signed the MLI and also submitted its MLI position listing DTTs with 19 treaty partners for amendment. These include the agreements that are already in force and those that are not yet in force (e.g. DTTs with Korea, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates). Also, of the 19 agreements, 13 treaty partners (including Belgium, Canada, China, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) have all listed their DTTs with Nigeria for amendment under the MLI. Nigeria and its treaty partners will need to subsequently agree on any parts of their proposals that do not match. Subsequent to this, each partner will then need to undertake the local domestication process to ensure that the changes become law.
The CRS MCAA
The CRS MCAA allows signatory countries to obtain financial information from financial institutions and automatically exchange the information with other jurisdictions that have signed up to the convention. Notably, the CRS MCAA will allow jurisdictions to exchange the following information:
- Name, address, and tax identification number of taxpayers.
- Taxpayer’s account number.
- Name of the reporting financial institution.
- The taxpayer’s account balance at the end of the reporting period.
Nigeria became the 94th jurisdiction to join the CRS MCAA. Some of the other signatories to the CRS MCAA include Bermuda, Cayman Islands, China, France, Germany, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The FIRS issued the Income Tax (Common Reporting Standard) Regulations in 2019 (CRS Regulations).
This follows Nigeria’s signing of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC) and the MCAA on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information, signed by Nigeria on 17 August 2017.
Fundamentally, the CRS Regulations and the various agreements signed by the FIRS will allow it to receive specified information on the bank accounts held by Nigerian tax residents in up to 105 countries. In exchange, the FIRS will be obligated to provide similar information to these other countries.
The CRS Regulations have an effective date of 1 July 2019 and require qualifying Nigerian Financial Institutions to submit an electronic information return (i.e. a return that reports specified financial account information of certain persons) to the FIRS on an annual basis.
The information is to be provided in respect of 'reportable accounts', which, subject to certain exemptions, are the Nigerian accounts of persons who are resident for tax purposes in a foreign country with which Nigeria has signed the relevant exchange of information agreement.
Other relevant provisions include:
- First reporting year: Starting from the 2019 calendar year.
- Filing deadline for information return: 31 May of the year following the calendar year to which the returns relate.
- Penalties for non-compliance:
- Failure to comply with duty or obligation imposed by the CRS Regulations: NGN 10 million in the first instance, in addition to NGN 1 million/month.
- Failure by a financial institution to file information return: NGN 10 million in the first instance, in addition to NGN 1 million/month.
- Furnishing false or incorrect information: NGN 5 million.
- Failure by a financial Institution or any person to comply with the FIRS requirement in the exercise of its powers: NGN 1 million in the first instance, in addition to NGN 100,000/month.
- Failure by a financial institution to keep records in accordance with the Regulations: NGN 1 million in the first instance, in addition to NGN 100,000/month.
Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP)
The FIRS has issued guidelines on accessing the MAP in Nigeria. The guidelines provide guidance to taxpayers on the process for accessing the MAP as a means of dispute resolutions as contained in the various avoidance of DTTs between Nigeria and other countries.