In January 2020 when I first read Nigeria’s Finance Act 2019, one of the instinctive questions that came to me was “is Nigeria serious about taxing digital trade now”? There were a few reasons for this skepticism. First, the Act seeks to tax nonresident companies (NRCs) that have a “significant economic presence” (SEP) in Nigeria but then delegates the definition of that pivotal phrase. Second, I questioned how Nigeria can enforce/administer this unilateral tax, which is payable by companies outside its borders. Third, I imagined that Nigeria’s unilateral attempt to tax digital trade could undermine relations with a strategic economic, and political partner, the US. Nigeria has now crossed the first hurdle of defining SEP – no doubt, a meaningful step forward – yet, there remains much to process before Africa’s biggest economy can begin to milk the digital cow.
Companies Income Tax Act
the responsibility to build a nation rests upon its policy-makers, lawyers and accountants. It is a collective one. The next step is to bring all stakeholders to the round-table and contribute to the global tax system from a protectionist standpoint. The lure of subscribing to the global fiscal commons must be tempered with the need to protect the tax bases and revenue of the fiscal sovereign. The time to act is now and right.