Loading, please wait ...

Go back to blog homepage

No
What is Withholding Tax (WHT): A Clear Explanation cover
Share article

What is Withholding Tax (WHT): A Clear Explanation

Withholding Tax (WHT) is a tax system that requires a payer to deduct tax from the payment made to a recipient and remit the deducted amount to the tax authorities. The system ensures that taxes are paid promptly and accurately. Many countries, including Nigeria, use the to collect taxes from various sources of income.

In Nigeria, withholding tax is a major source of revenue for the government. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is responsible for administering the WHT system in Nigeria. The WHT system covers various transactions, including contracts, consultancy services, dividends, interest, and rent. The rate of withholding tax varies depending on the type of transaction and the parties involved. For example, the WHT rate for dividends is 10%, while the rate for rent is 10% for individuals and 12.5% for companies.

The WHT system is an important tool for ensuring tax compliance in Nigeria. It helps to reduce tax evasion and improve tax collection. However, it can also be a burden for businesses that have to comply with the complex rules and regulations of the WHT system. As such, it is important for businesses to understand the WHT system and its requirements to avoid penalties and other legal consequences.

Understanding Withholding Tax in Nigeria

Definition of Withholding Tax

Withholding Tax (WHT) is a form of tax that is deducted at source from payments made to individuals or companies for goods or services rendered. The tax is deducted by the payer of the income and remitted to the government. The purpose of WHT is to ensure tax compliance and revenue generation. It is not a separate tax on its own and does not exempt companies from filing their annual tax returns.

Types of Withholding Tax

There are different types of WHT in Nigeria, and the rates vary depending on the transaction type. Some of the types of WHT include:

  • Rent: This applies to rental income earned by individuals or companies. The WHT rate is 10%.
  • Dividends: This applies to dividends paid by companies to their shareholders. The WHT rate is 10%.
  • Interest: This applies to interest earned on loans or investments. The WHT rate is 10%.
  • Commission: This applies to commission earned by individuals or companies for services rendered. The WHT rate is 5%.
  • Royalties: This applies to royalties earned by individuals or companies for the use of their intellectual property. The WHT rate is 10%.
  • Technical service: This applies to technical services rendered by individuals or companies. The WHT rate is 10%.
  • Professional service: This applies to professional services rendered by individuals or companies. The WHT rate is 5%.
  • Management service: This applies to management services rendered by individuals or companies. The WHT rate is 10%.

WHT Rates for Different Transactions

The WHT rates for different transactions vary depending on the type of transaction. For instance, the WHT rate for dividends is 10%, while the WHT rate for rent is also 10%. The WHT rate for interest is 10%, while the WHT rate for commission is 5%. It is important to note that the WHT rates for resident companies or individuals and non-resident companies or individuals are the same.

In conclusion, WHT is an important form of tax in Nigeria that helps ensure tax compliance and revenue generation. The government deducts the tax at source from payments made to individuals or companies for goods or services rendered. The rates vary depending on the type of transaction, and it is important for individuals and companies to be aware of the rates in order to comply with tax regulations.

Compliance and Procedures

Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Before filing WHT returns, taxpayers must obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN). The TIN is a unique identification number that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) issues to individuals and companies for tax purposes. It is a mandatory requirement for all taxpayers in Nigeria.

Filing WHT Returns

Filing WHT returns involves submitting a statement of all payments made to suppliers or vendors during a specific period. The statement must include the names and addresses of the suppliers, the amount paid, and the amount of tax withheld. You must file this statement must with FIRS within 21 days after the end of the month in which the payment was made.

Taxpayers can file their WHT returns online using the FIRS e-Services platform. They can also file their returns manually at any FIRS office.

Remittance of Withholding Tax

After filing WHT returns, taxpayers must remit the tax withheld to FIRS within a specified time frame. The time frame for remittance is usually within 30 days after the end of the month in which the payment was made.

Taxpayers can remit their WHT payments online using the FIRS e-Services platform. They can also remit their payments manually at any FIRS office.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with WHT regulations can result in penalties and interest charges. Taxpayers who fail to file their WHT returns on time or remit the tax withheld within the specified time frame may be subject to penalties and interest charges.

In addition, tax authorities may take legal action against taxpayers who engage in tax evasion or fraud. Taxpayers who evade their taxes or commit fraud may be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both.

Overall, compliance with WHT regulations is essential for all taxpayers in Nigeria. By obtaining a TIN, filing WHT returns, and remitting tax payments on time, taxpayers can avoid penalties and ensure that they are in good standing with the tax authority.

Withholding Tax Exemptions and Credits

Exemptions from Withholding Tax

Not all types of income are subject to withholding tax in Nigeria. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) provides a list of exemptions from withholding tax, which includes:

  • Dividends paid out of profits that have already suffered tax
  • Interest on bonds, debentures, and government securities

Income Derived by

  • the Nigerian government or any of its agencies.
  • religious, charitable, and educational institutions.
  • statutory bodies established by law.
  • companies engaged in agricultural trade or business.

Tax Credit Mechanism

Under Nigerian tax law, tax credits are available to taxpayers who have suffered withholding tax on income derived from Nigeria. The tax credit mechanism allows taxpayers to offset the amount of tax withheld from their Nigerian income against their tax liability in their home country.

Resident companies in Nigeria are entitled to a tax credit for any withholding tax suffered on foreign-sourced income, provided that the foreign country has a double tax treaty with Nigeria. Non-resident companies and non-resident individuals are not eligible for tax credits.

The tax credit is limited to the lower of the amount of tax withheld in Nigeria or the amount of tax payable in the taxpayer's home country on the same income. The tax credit cannot exceed the actual tax liability in the taxpayer's home country.

In summary, withholding tax exemptions and credits are important mechanisms for reducing the tax burden of taxpayers in Nigeria. Corporate entities and beneficiaries of income subject to withholding tax should be aware of the exemptions and tax credit mechanism to ensure compliance with Nigerian tax laws.

International Withholding Tax Considerations

Double Taxation Treaties (DTTs)

Nigeria has entered into Double Taxation Treaties (DTTs) with several countries, including Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Romania, and the United Kingdom. These treaties are designed to prevent double taxation of income earned in both countries and provide relief to taxpayers.

Under these treaties, the withholding tax (WHT) rates on certain types of income, such as dividends, interest, and royalties, may be reduced. The exact rates depend on the specific treaty and the type of income being earned. For example, under the DTT between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, the WHT rate on dividends is reduced to 7.5%, while the rate on interest is reduced to 7%.

WHT for Non-Resident Companies and Individuals

Non-resident companies and individuals are subject to WHT on certain types of income earned in Nigeria. The WHT rates vary depending on the type of income being earned, and whether or not Nigeria has a DTT with the country of residence of the non-resident.

For example, non-resident companies and individuals earning income from consultancy or professional services are subject to a WHT rate of 10%, while those earning income from royalties are subject to a WHT rate of 15%. However, if there is a DTT between Nigeria and the country of residence of the non-resident, the WHT rate may be reduced.

China, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, and Sweden are among the countries that have a DTT with Nigeria, which may provide relief to non-resident companies and individuals.

It is important to note that non-resident companies and individuals earning income in Nigeria must appoint a local agent or representative who will be responsible for filing tax returns and remitting the WHT to the Nigerian tax authorities.

WHT Rates

The WHT rates for resident companies and individuals and non-resident companies and individuals are the same. The rates vary depending on the type of income being earned and whether or not there is a DTT in place.

For example, the WHT rate on dividends is 10%, while the rate on interest is 15%. However, if there is a DTT in place, the rates may be reduced.

It is important for companies and individuals earning income in Nigeria to understand the WHT rates and whether or not a DTT is in place with their country of residence to ensure they are compliant with Nigerian tax laws.

Conclusion

In Nigeria, withholding tax is an important tax mechanism that ensures citizens pay their taxes on time. It requires the payer, usually an employer or a financial institution, to deduct a certain percentage or amount from a payment made to a payee, such as an employee or a contractor.

The withholding tax rates in Nigeria vary depending on the type of payment, with rates ranging from 5% to 15%. It is important for individuals and companies to understand the different rates and classifications for withholding tax, as failure to comply with the tax regulations can result in penalties and legal consequences.

Overall, understanding withholding tax in Nigeria is essential for anyone who is making or receiving payments in the country. By complying with the regulations and ensuring that they pay the correct amount of tax, individuals and companies can avoid legal issues and contribute to the development of the Nigerian economy.

Do you want more content like this from nairaCompare? Sign Up!

Was this post helpful?

Start saving, borrowing, and investing smarter
today. 

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our newsletters now for the latest updates on loan offerings, money tips, and qualify to check your credit score ₦600 free!

By continuing, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.