Stamp Duty (SD) is a type of tax that is applicable on the execution of certain instruments and special documents. For example, Receipts, Agreements, Contracts, Title deeds etc., to give it additional legal backing and enforcement in the event of dispute or presentation at a court of law, to make it enforceable.
Stamp Duty Act (SDA) is an Act to provide for the levying of stamp duties on certain matters / documents. It is the Act that gives the enabling government agency (Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) for all federal related transactions and the State Internal Revenue Services (SIRS) for all state related transactions).
It therefore means that the first starting point for anyone or businesses is to determine if an instrument is liable to SD and thereafter to which tax authority – to the FIRS or to the SIRS.
It is also important to note that the existence of the SDA preexists Nigeria’s independence and as such it is here to stay, following the renewed efforts, commitment and focus by the FIRS and in view of the huge internally generated revenue that is attributable to this tax type.
It is on record also, that the total amount of SD collected for the calendar year 2019 is about NGN18billion, while for the first five (5) months (January to May) of 2020 the agency has recorded about NGN66billion in revenue.
CHANGES / REMINDERS TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC:
The FIRS is the competent authority to charge and collect SD upon instruments relating to transactions or matters executed between corporate bodies or between a corporate body and an individual, group or body of individuals, while the relevant SIRS shall collect SD in respect of instruments executed between individuals at such rate to be imposed or charged in agreement with the Federal Government.
Following the huge revenue attributable to this tax type and the changes in the Finance Act 2019 (which broadens the scope / complexity of this tax type), the FIRS has introduced and clarified the following as liable to SD:
- All written / printed dutiable instruments or receipts
- All electronic dutiable instruments or receipts (i.e. in the form of electronic media content, electronic documents or files, e-mails, short message service (sms), instant messages (IM), any internet-based messaging service, website or cloud-based platform, etc.)
- All printed receipts (including POS receipts, physicalized device receipts, Automated Teller Machine (ATM) print-outs and other forms of written or printed acknowledgment)
- All electronically generated receipts and any form of electronic acknowledgement of money for dutiable transactions
The FIRS issued a comprehensive Information Circular in May 2020, to explain and clarify the practical implications of the provisions of the Finance Act, 2019, regarding SD. This Information Circular can be found and downloaded here.
FIRS had also developed and launched an online portal “Integrated Stamp Duty Services” to support the activities of the agency. This portal – https://stampduty.gov.ng/ affords closer interactions, payments and issuance of stamp duties certificates / receipts to the taxpayer right from this platform.
For ease of administration, there are basically two (2) types of stamp duty payments. The fixed rate and the Ad Valorem rate (a percentage of the value indicated on the instrument to be stamped).
Historically, Stamp Duties were chargeable on only physical instruments but with the advent of the Finance Act, 2019, it now covers electronic transactions as well.
Following this, the apex revenue agency in Nigeria has also launched the FIRS adhesive stamp for the sole purpose of the SDA and calls on all taxpayers to adhere and utilize this, which is available in all of the FIRS offices nationwide.
In the same swift vein, the agency has setup an Inter-ministerial committee effective 30th June 2020, charged with the responsibility to audit and recovery five (5) years’ stamp duties charges from relevant government agencies and MDA’s. Members of the committee includes persons from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Ministry of Justice, the FIRS as well as Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning. This committee is to review the financial records of relevant government agencies, ministries, parastatals and establishments that collects stamp duties but are yet to remit same to the FIRS.
For the avoidance of doubt, the following amongst others are instruments liable to Stamp Duty:
|FIXED DUTY INSTRUMENTS||AD-VALOREM INSTRUMENTS|
|Receipts / Guarantor’s / proxy forms||Sales Agreement|
|Power of Attorney||Contract notes|
|Certificate of Occupancy ( C of O)||Insurance policies|
|Memorandum of Understanding||Promissory notes|
|Ordinary Agreements||Deed of Assignment|
|Joint Venture Agreement||Tenancy / Lease Agreement|
Instruments or documents executed outside of the country and received in Nigeria are also liable to SD, following the conditions mentioned below:
- If such instrument is retrieved or accessed in or from Nigeria
- If such instrument stored in a device such as a computer/hard drive and brought into Nigeria
- If such instrument is stored on a device, server or a computer in Nigeria
The creation of the SD portal by the FIRS is aimed and streamlining activities for the tax payers going forward. It is therefore easier for anyone to go online in from any location in the world to pay for and obtain receipt / certificate to confirm that an SD has been paid for an instrument. In some cases, these document might not be physically stamped, but payment and collection of certificate then implies that the right thing has been done on the said instrument.
While in a situation and an adhesive need to be fixed on an instrument, the taxpayer can approach the closest FIRS office to his or her location to pick-up the necessary adhesive and ensure compliance.
It is expected that over the next few months, we would begin to see more attention and activities from the committee that has been setup to audit and recovery five (5) years’ stamp duties.
Organizations and persons carrying on business in Nigeria now need to review each and every of its transactions and instrument with a view to ensure compliance so as to ensure compliance with the SD. Failure to comply may lead to penalty charges of various degrees, prosecution or both. Further, legal documents not properly stamped will not be admissible or held valid in the court of law, including contracts of employment.
We at Vi-M Professional Solutions are available to assist review your records and transactions and give you a report stating your compliance levels in connection to the provisions of the SDA. Please contact us at email@example.com, should you require any further clarifications on the issues stated above or if you require any assistance in this regard.
The views expressed in this article are Vi-M’s general overviews of the enabling legislations on SD and practical activities of the FIRS. We encourage you to contact our representatives one-on-one through www.vi-m.com or firstname.lastname@example.org should you intend to take any action, implement any changes or make payment for stamp duties on account of this article.