11 October 2021 saw the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) issue guidelines for VAT compliance for non-resident suppliers who render digital services taxable in Nigeria. These guidelines were made pursuant to Section 10 of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act Cap V1, LFN 2004 (as amended) and came into effect from 1 January 2022 with respect to supply of services as well as intangibles and 1 January 2024 for supplies of goods.
Section 10 (1) of the VAT Act requires non-resident suppliers (NRS) of services to Nigeria to register and obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Section 10 (3) enables the FIRS to appoint any person to collect VAT on its behalf, and the remittance to the FIRS.
An NRS will be regarded as having failed to collect VAT on its services where:
Where the NRS fails to account for or to remit VAT or to generally comply with these guidelines, the FIRS may take all necessary steps to enforce the tax laws and collect the taxes due.
Technically, the appointment of NRSs as VAT collectors is not currently supported by the VAT Act. This is because Nigerian customers are required to self-charge or deduct VAT at source and remit to the FIRS. The VAT registration threshold for NRSs included in the circular being USD 25,000 (approx. EUR 23,975), is lower than the NGN 25,000,000 (approx. EUR 57,702) threshold stated in the VAT Act, while the new mode of registration according to the guidelines may create an additional administrative requirement for registered NRSs.
While it is evident that the FIRS intends to adopt a clear and practical approach as can be seen in the guideline, it is pertinent that they align with the provisions of the law.
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