Nigeria is being careful with its approach in its quest to tax the digital economy. Rather than enacting a stand-alone digital service tax law, Nigeria is amending key parts of its corporate income tax law to accommodate effects of the digital economy. These amendments, particularly the latest amendment on turnover assessment, are not substantially different from an average digital service tax. Both taxes are levied on turnover of digital platforms. The 6% tax rate on turnover is likely to be a major concern for non-resident companies as it is much higher than the digital service taxes in other jurisdictions. France and UK impose 3% and 2% digital service tax respectively; while Kenya, a comparable developing country in the same region, has 1.5% digital service tax. Canada is in advanced stage of launching its 3% digital service tax on all in-country revenues earned on digital activities.
On July 1, 2021, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secured the votes of 130 members out of 139 members of the Inclusive Framework, on a two-pillar plan to reform the global tax rules. Notably, two African countries—Kenya and Nigeria—, active members of the Inclusive Framework withheld their support for this plan, which has been described by many as “historic”. Nigeria is a major economic force in West Africa and the largest economy, by GDP, on the African continent. Kenya is East Africa’s gateway and the region’s largest economy. What must have influenced their decisions not to support a historic global tax reform, and what are the consequences of such action?
It is imperative that a strategy and approach be undertaken to address MNE business models and challenges regarding taxing the digitalized economy, and that legislative measures are enacted to preserve or expand Africa’s tax base. Overall, the potential gains from Digital Sales Tax are significant, as inclusion of digital services tax, may subsequently increase revenue that may be utilised for developing States, particularly at a time of high State expenditure to alleviate the economic and social impact of Covid-19. You could include some benefits from countries that have imposed unilateral taxation legislation highlighted above to showcase the potential gains.
Brazil has been a challenging environment for businesses, in great part, due to the complexity and inefficiency of its tax system. Despite some controversy about the necessity of a wide and structural tax reform, the topic has been treated as a priority by the President and Congressional leaders, but the bills that currently address the tax reform have struggled to make significant progress in the Brazilian Congress. Besides, uncertainties remain as the Federal Administration may present and endorse a proposal, which could include the creation of a Digital Services Tax (“DST”).