We’ll Soon Impose Heavy Taxes On Facebook, Twitter, Others – Osinbajo
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Nigeria is set to utilise its legal provisions that empower the Federal Government to collect taxes on profits made in the country by global technology and digital firms not based in the country, but with a significant economic presence here.
While the Federal Government will not be raising tax rates at this time, based on the Finance Act 2019, it is already empowered to widen the tax net, including by collecting taxes on the Nigerian income of global tech giants with significant economic presence here, even if they have not established an office or permanent establishment and are currently not paying taxes in Nigeria.
In this regard, Section 4 of the Finance Act 2019, provides that “the Minister (Finance) may by order (of the President) determine what constitutes the significant economic presence of a company other than a Nigerian company.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, hinted at these issues and others while interacting with a delegation of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, CITN, led by its President, Mr Adesina Adedayo who visited him at the Presidential Villa on Friday.
According to Prof. Osinbajo, “we have had severe economic downturns which of course implies that we may not be able to collect taxes with the aggressiveness that would ordinarily be expected.
“I think the most important thing is that we must widen our tax net so that more people who are eligible to pay tax are paying. Several efforts have been made, and I am sure you are aware of the initiatives including the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which was also an attempt to bring more people into the tax net, including those who have foreign assets.”
Continuing, the VP said “we have also recently taken a step with respect to a lot of the technology companies that are not represented here but who do huge volumes of business here.
“The Finance Act has shown that we are very prepared to ensure that these big technology companies do not escape without paying their fair share of taxation in Nigeria. Many of them do incredible volumes here in Nigeria and in several other parts of the region.
“We have drawn up the regulations and we are prepared to go, and I think that we are at least in a good place to tap into some of the tax resources we can get from some of these companies.”
Indeed, besides the FG, a recent Bloomberg news article reported that “Governments around the world are grappling with how to modernize their legal frameworks to account for the global reach of the digital economy, reshaping how policymakers think about issues as varied as monopoly power, taxation and workers’ rights.”
Also, international talks are currently ongoing in Paris on global standard rules for governments to receive taxes from such digital and technology firms with significant economic presence in foreign countries.
In Nigeria, according to the Finance Act 2019, a company will pay taxes if it “transmits, emits or receives signals, sounds, messages, images or data of any kind by cable, radio, electromagnetic systems, or any other electronic or wireless apparatus to Nigeria in respect of any activity, including electronic commerce, application store, high-frequency trading, electronic data storage, online adverts, participative network platform, online payments and so on, to the extent that the company has significant economic presence in Nigeria and profit can be attributable to such activity.