Banks and Telecoms Become Tax Agents

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CEM REPORT, FINANCE | Commercial banks including telecommunications companies have been appointed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as tax agents.

The service says the appointed agent will withhold Value Added Tax (VAT) charged on all taxable supplies made to them, and remit the same to the Service.

FIRS in a public notice issued on November 1, named MTN; Airtel; and all money deposit banks in the country as companies appointed to perform the role.

The notice signed by the service executive chairman, Muhammad Nami, noted that appointed companies will be able to assume the mandate from 1st January 2023.

“This Notice is given to all persons carrying on trade, profession or business of any kind, tax practitioners and the general public that, with effect from 1st January 2023; in line with the provisions of Section 14(3) of the Value Added Tax Act Cap. V1 LFN 2004 (as amended), the following companies are appointed to withhold or collect VAT charged on all taxable supplies made to them: MTN; Airtel; and all money deposit banks—as defined by the CBN Guidelines,” the notice said.

The FIRS noted that these companies were expected to remit the tax they would withhold on or before the 21st day of the month immediately following the month the tax was withheld, in the format prescribed by the Service.

“The companies shall remit the tax withheld or collected, in the currency of transaction, to the Service on or before the 21st day of the month immediately following the month the tax was withheld or collected,” FIRS said.

“The tax withheld or collected under this notice shall be remitted in the format prescribed by the Service but separately from VAT due on the companies’ taxable supplies.”

The notice further explained the options that were available to suppliers of these companies whose output tax is withheld.

“A supplier whose output tax is withheld, as provided in this notice, may deduct the input tax paid on the goods purchased or imported to make the taxable supply from the output tax collected on other taxable supplies.

“And where the input tax paid to make the supply is not fully recovered from the output tax on other taxable supplies, the balance is refundable to the supplier; provided that a supplier who is entitled to a refund may utilise the amount refundable to offset future VAT liability or request for a cash pay-out,” the notice said.

It further noted that the Service has instituted adequate measures to ensure prompt payment of refundable input tax under this arrangement, while also stating that input tax claims, which include refunds, are subject to the limitations imposed by Section 17(2)(a) of the VAT Act.

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