The Finance Act of 2020 (the Act) reviews and amends several tax legislations. By so doing it consolidates into one statute many tax provisions from different tax statutes. The main thrust of the Act is to increase revenue of the Federal government and to curb avenues by which tax has been evaded and or avoided over the years.
The statutes which the Finance Act tends to amend, repeal or add some provisions are as follows:
- The Companies Income Tax Act
- Value Added Tax Act
- Customs and Excise Tarrifs etc (Consolidation Act)
- Personal Income Tax Act
- Capital Gains Tax Act
- Stamp Duties Act
- Petroleum Income Tax Act
The Companies Income Tax Act (CITA)
A total of about 23 sections of the CITA have been either amended, repealed or substituted by the Finance Act. Some of the provisions of the CITA amended by the Finance Act are as follows:
Section 9 of the CITA was amended to check for double or multiple taxation, also to charge taxes on collaterals.
The requirement for Tax Identification Number (TIN) for companies is made mandatory under the new section 10 of the CITA. TIN is also made mandatory for opening of bank accounts and the operation of existing ones by account holders.
Section 13 was expanded to make companies with electronic or online business within the spheres of Nigeria and having some significant economic presence in Nigeria taxable.
Under section 19 of the CITA, excess dividend is exempted from further tax. Section 23 exempted franked investment incomes from tax liabilities under CITA.
Section 16 of the CITA was further amended by the addition of a new subsection which defines what an “investment income” is for the purposes of taxation of life insurance companies
The Act also increased the monetary penalty for late filing of tax returns. The CITA also categorized companies by their annual gross turn over or income for the purposes of corporate tax liability such that companies with annual gross turn-over of 25 million or less are categorized as small companies and are exempted from tax liability. A medium-sized company is defined as a company having an annual gross turnover of over N25, 000,000.00 (Twenty Five Million Naira) per annum but below N100, 000, 000.00 (One Hundred Million Naira). Such Companies shall pay Income Tax at the rate of 20% while companies other than small or medium sized companies are defined as large companies and their income tax rate is stated to be 30%.
Capital Gains Act
The Capital Gains Tax Act is amended at section 36(2)of the CGTA to the extent that exemption on tax liability for compensation for loss of office which was hitherto limited to N10,000.00 is now extended to N10,000,000.00. There is a new section 32 which provides that no tax shall apply to any trade or business transferred to a Nigerian company for the purposes of better organization of that trade or business etc. This tax exemption is however not applicable if the acquiring company subsequently disposes of the assets within one year of acquiring same.
Personal Income Tax Act
The section 49 of the PITA has been amended to make the provision of Tax Identification Number mandatory for persons intending to open a new bank account for purposes of business operations or for continuation of operation of such bank account. In order words, the mandatory requirement for tax identification number is for accounts being operated for purposes of business transactions.
Value Added Tax
Section 4 of the VAT Act has been amended by increasing the value added tax payable by consumers from 5% to 7.5%. Section 19 increased the penalty payable by a taxable person for non-remittance within the specified period from 5% to 10%.
Under section 28, the penalty for failure to give notice of change of address or permanent cessation of business was increased from N 5000 to N 50, 000 in the first month and N25000 in subsequent months.
There is a new section 8 of the VAT Act to cater for the registration of a taxable person upon commencement of business. The penalty for failure to register has been increased from N10, 000 to N50,000 in the first month and from N 5, 000 to N 25, 000 in the subsequent months. However, the time within which a taxable person is required to register with the service is not specified under the new law as the law simply hinged the time “upon commencement of business.” This is somehow ambiguous and may be subject for court’s interpretation.
The new section 15 of VAT introduces a threshold for VAT compliance. Thus companies with turnover of N25, 000, 000. 00 or more shall render their tax on or before the 21st of every month.
Petroleum Profits Tax Act
The new Act deletes section 60 of the PPTA. This is the section that gives tax exemption from dividends or incomes paid out of profits made after tax deductions made under the Petroleum Profits Tax Act. The effect of the revocation of the said section 60 appears to be that such incomes or dividends shall henceforth be subjected to tax liability.
While the Finance Act may seem to be favorable to small scale businesses and encourages growing Nigerian companies, it appears not to encourage foreign investors and international businesses. Also the increase of the vat rate from 5% to 7.5% appears to put more hardship on the people while increasing the revenue of the people.