FIRS NOTICE ON THE STAMP DUTIES ACT

Introduction

 

In a bid to remind the general public of the obligations to comply with the provisions of the Stamp Duties Act, CAP S8 LFN 2007 (SDA) as amended by the Finance Act 2019, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has issued a public notice.  The issuance of the public notice is a follow-up to the event organized by the FIRS to deliberate on the audit and recovery of stamp duties and launch the FIRS adhesive stamps.  According to the FIRS Chairman, the introduction of the adhesive stamps will among other things plug revenue sinkhole, enable proper accountability and transparency, simplify the administration of stamp duties, and reduce disputes.

 

The SDA defines duty to mean “any stamp duty for the time being chargeable under any other Act and also includes any fee chargeable hereunder". The Black’s Law Dictionary defines stamp duty as tax raised by requiring stamps sold by the government to be affixed to designated documents, thus forming part of the perpetual revenue. Stamp duty is essentially a duty chargeable on both physical and electronic instruments.  Stamp duty is also an evidence or acknowledgment of payment of the appropriate fee which could take the form of an engraved ink, blocked die, an electronic stamp, or an electronic acknowledgment for denoting any duty or fee.  Stamp duty is either charged ad-valorem; where duty payable is a percentage of the consideration of an instrument or a fixed sum regardless of the consideration of the instrument.

 

Highlights of the Public Notice

 

In line with the amendment in the Finance Act 2019 relating to Section 4 (1) & (2) of the SDA, the FIRS is the only competent authority to impose, charge and collect duties on instruments that relates to matters executed between a company and an individual, group or body of individuals, while the relevant tax authority in a State is authorized to collect duties in respect of instruments executed between persons or individuals. This has resolved the ambiguities on the parties responsible for the administration and collection of stamp duty.

 

Further, the FIRS via the public notice, emphasized that the following instruments, among others, whether written, printed or in electronic forms are subject to stamp duty:

 

Fixed Duty Instruments:

Ad-Valorem Instruments:

Power of Attorney (PoA)

Deed of Assignment

Certificates of Occupancy (C of O)

Sales Agreement

Proxy forms

Legal Mortgage or Debentures

Appointment of Receiver

Tenancy or Lease Agreements

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)

Insurance Policies

Joint Venture Agreements (JVA)

Contract Agreements

Guarantor's form

Vending Agreement

Ordinary Agreements

Promissory Notes

Receipts

Charter-Party

 

Contract Notes

 

Other Highlights

 

  • All intra and inter-bank deposits and transfers of money amounting to N10,000 and above in any type of account shall attract a singular or one-off stamp duty of N50. However, intra-bank deposits and transfers between bank accounts maintained by the same person are exempt.
  • Receipts (written, printed, or in electronic form) for transactions between corporate bodies or between a corporate body and an individual, group, or body of individuals with transaction value of N10,000 and above shall be denoted by payment of stamp duty of N50 per receipt.
  • Stamp duty transactions (assessment, payment, and e-certification issuance) can be carried out online via www.stampduty.gov.ng.

 

Key takeaway

 

The reliance on postage stamps for denoting stamp duties since the enactment of the SDA in 1939 has resulted in a huge loss of government revenue. With the amendment in the Finance Act 2019, electronic stamps can now be used for denoting stamp duties on e-documents in line with current realities.

 

Also, the ambiguity on the relevant bodies of government responsible for the administration of the SDA inhibited the collection of stamp duties. With the appointment of the FIRS and State Internal Revenue Services as the relevant authorities for the collection of stamp duty, the government is now set to explore another alternative revenue source to fund its budgetary needs.

 

We implore all taxpayers to take the necessary steps towards compliance with the requirements of the SDA as failure to comply may result in prosecution for offenses under the SDA, payment of penalties of various degrees, inability to use the relevant instrument as evidence in court or other judicial/quasi-judicial proceedings, etc.

 

Should you require any guidance on the necessary steps to comply with the SDA, please contact us at Mazars Nigeria.