Individual - Significant developments

Last reviewed - 28 January 2020

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2019 Finance Bill into Law

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has signed the Nigerian Tax and Fiscal Law (Amendment) Bill 2019 otherwise known as the Finance Bill into law. The Finance Act has five (5) objectives i.e promoting fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation, Reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practices, Introducing tax incentives for infrastructure and capital markets, Supporting small businesses in line with the ongoing Ease of doing business reforms and Raising revenues for the Government by various fiscal measures

Tax Appeal Tribunal rules that withdrawal of voluntary pension may be taxable but it is not the responsibility of the employer

The Lagos Internal Revenue Service (LIRS), following a tax audit for the 2013 and 2014 years of assessment, issued a Notice of Refusal to Amend (NORA) to Nexen Petroleum Nigeria Limited ('the company'). The LIRS assessed the company for additional liabilities on the grounds that the company had under remitted Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax by taking statutory tax relief for Voluntary Pension Contributions (VPCs) made by its employees to pension fund administrators (PFAs).

The Tax Appeal Tribunal's decision addressed the following key issues:

  • That all pension contributions, including voluntary pension contributions without any limit, are tax deductible.
  • There is no requirement for the employer to ensure that a VPC was not withdrawn by the employee within a period of time to qualify for tax deduction on the contribution.
  • That the agency responsibility for an employer to deduct and remit PAYE does not extend to any tax that may become payable upon withdrawal of voluntary pension contributions by an employee from the PFA.

Tax Appeal Tribunal says gratuities are not taxable

Previously, section 3 of the Personal Income Tax Act of 1993 (PITA 1993), i.e. the charging section, imposed tax on gratuities, and the 3rd Schedule to the Act exempted gratuities up to 100,000 Nigerian naira (NGN) from tax. The implication was that gratuities in excess of NGN 100,000 were subject to tax.

However, section 3 of PITA 1993 was subsequently amended by the Finance (Miscellaneous Tax Provisions) (No. 3) Decree (1996 Decree) removing 'gratuities' from taxable income. However, the exemption under the 3rd Schedule was not amended. This created an apparent conflict in that while on one hand section 3 did not specifically mention gratuities as taxable, the 3rd Schedule inferred that gratuities in excess of NGN 100,000 are taxable. This conflict created an uncertainty as to whether gratuities are subject to tax or not. The Tribunal stated that gratuities are not subject to tax.

LIRS to issue new tax identification numbers to taxpayers

The LIRS, on 30 May 2019, issued a Public Notice informing the public of the new Tax Identification Number (TIN), which will be issued to every individual, registered business, and incorporated company.

The new TIN is part of the deployment of a new tax administration system by the LIRS called the Lagos State Government Electronic Banking System (LASG-EBS) and the integration of the LASG-EBS Taxpayers Identification Digit (PID) with the Joint Tax Board (JTB) nationwide TIN. The new TIN will provide individuals and companies access to the LASG-EBS (a biometric based and linked to the Bank Verification Number [BVN] of the individuals or companies).

LIRS appoints employers to deduct and remit capital gains tax (CGT) on compensation for loss of employment 

The LIRS has issued a Public Notice mandating employers (collecting agents) to account for and remit CGT on termination benefits and any other capital sum paid to disengaging employees. The collecting agents are required to file, alongside their respective annual returns, a statement showing all recipients of capital sums paid by the collecting agent in the format provided by the LIRS. Nil statements are to be filed where applicable. The appointment of collecting agents for CGT purposes as contained in the Notice is effective from 1 January 2019.