6% Stamp Duty: Landlords Should Not Increase Rent—FIRS

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has said the new tax regulations on rents and leases should not be any basis for increment by landlords because they are not collection agents.

This was disclosed in a statement by Mr Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, the director of FIRS communications and liaison department.

In the notice, he quoted the Executive Chairman of the tax agency, Mr Muhammad Nami, as saying in an interview on Nigeria Info in Abuja that rents should not be raised because of the stamp duty charge.

The FIRS chief explained that tenants would be the parties to remit the applicable stamp duty at any commercial bank of their choice, not to any landlord.

He said, “The stamp duty is charged at graduated rates. Stamp duty on rent or lease from one year to less than seven years is 0.78 per cent. If your rent is N100,000, stamp duty due on it is N780. Your stamp duty could be as low as N200 or N300 if you live in a room and parlour or in the village where rent is low.

“If you can afford to pay your rent between seven to 21 years, your stamp duty is three per cent on the rent. If you can afford to pay rent at once from 21 years and above, the stamp duty due is six per cent, which is very rare but we created room for it because some renters prefer long leases.

“Once you’ve reached an agreement with your landlord on the amount to pay for your rent of less than seven years, you should calculate 0.78 per cent of the amount, go to a nearby bank and ask to pay the 0.78 per cent into the stamp duty account. Collect the teller and tender it to your landlord to legalise your transaction with him or her.

“It is the responsibility of the landlord before he or she issues a receipt or sign a rent or lease agreement with a tenant to make sure that the tenant presents evidence of stamp duty payment.

“A landlord that does not insist on evidence of stamp duty payment will bear the cost of the stamp duty if the FIRS eventually finds out. You do not pay stamp duty on your own residential accommodation if you are the owner of the property even if you live in a 10-storey building.”

Mr Nami added that with the execution of the 2019 finance act, 60 per cent of taxpayers, including small and micro enterprises (SMEs), were exempted from paying tax because only companies which make up to N25 million turnover now pay tax or collect value-added tax (VAT).

“This has, therefore, relieved millions of Nigerians and SMEs, including many businesses impacted by COVID-19, of their tax obligations to the government, which is a form of long-term tax palliative to them even before the pandemic,” he added.

The FIRS chairman explained that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic downturn has made it necessary for the government to close tax loopholes in order to fund the budget, provide needed public infrastructure and meet overhead cost like salary payment at federal, state and local government levels.

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