Sanitary Pads among 20 Basic Items Exempted From 7.5 VAT

Sanitary Pads are among the list of 20 basic food items in the Finance Act 2019 that was exempted from the new 7.5 Valued Added Tax, VAT which is expected to take effect from February this year.

President Muhammadu Buhari had penultimate week signed the Finance Act to improve the revenue base of the country.

However, the new law which has generated a lot of controversy according to the government will promote fiscal equity and support MSMES. Laolu A statement from the office of the Vice President read this,  “In a bid to ensure that the cost of living does not rise for Nigerians because of the changes in the Value-Added Tax, several basic food items, locally manufactured sanitary towels, pads and tuition relating to nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary education have been added to the exemption list of goods and services on the VAT under the Finance Bill 2019, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last week, on the 13th January 2020.

“Amongst other benefits, the law will consolidate efforts already made in creating the enabling environment for improved private sector participation and contribution to the economy as well as boost states’ revenues.” Recall that President Buhari had said that,” “the Finance Bill will support the funding and implementation of the 2020 Budget. We shall sustain this tradition by ensuring that subsequent budgets are also accompanied by a Finance Bill.” The Finance Bill, 2019 was submitted to the National Assembly by President Buhari alongside the 2020 Appropriation Bill and signed into law by the President on January 13, 2020

The objectives of the Act: “Promoting fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation; Reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practices; Introducing tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets; ” Supporting Micro, Small and Medium-sized businesses in line with the administration’s Ease of Doing Business Reforms; Raising Revenues for Federal, State and Local Governments”

The new Act is the first legislation created to accompany an Appropriation Act since the return of democracy in 1999 and it raises VAT from 5 per cent to 7.5 per cent. The presidency explained that “To allay fears that low-income persons and companies will be marginalized by the new law, reduce the burden of taxation on vulnerable segments, and promote equitable taxation, the Finance Act 2019 has extended the list of goods and services exempted from VAT.

The additional exemptions include the following:

“Basic food items – Additives (honey), bread, cereals, cooking oils, culinary herbs, fish, flour and starch, fruits (fresh or dried), live or raw meat and poultry, milk, nuts, pulses, roots, salt, vegetables, water (natural water and table water) ” Locally manufactured sanitary towels, pads or tampons. Services rendered by micro finance banks Tuition relating to the nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary education.” It further noted that ” the increased new VAT rate of 7.5 per cent is still the lowest in Africa, and one of the lowest anywhere in the world. (South Africa VAT: 15%; Ghana: 12.5%; Kenya: 16%; Egypt: 14%; Rwanda: 18%; Senegal: 18%) “Under Nigeria’s revenue sharing formula, 85% of the collected VAT goes to States and Local Governments. This means that the bulk of additional VAT revenues accruing from the increase will go towards enabling States and Local Governments to meet their obligations to citizens, including the new minimum wage as already noted by State Governors. Before now, the Buhari administration had firmly resisted previous suggestions to raise VAT. “The new Finance Act exempts Businesses with turnover below 25 million from VAT payments.” On Companies Income Tax (CIT), it stated that “Under the new law small companies – companies with less than N25 million in annual turnover are charged Zero CIT. ” CIT for Companies with revenues between N25 and N100m (described in the Act as “medium-sized” companies) has been reduced from 30% to 20% “Large companies – with an annual turnover greater than N100m – will continue to pay the standard 30% CIT ” The new Act includes a provision that grants to all companies “engaged in agricultural production” in Nigeria “an initial tax-free period of five years”, renewable for an additional three years. ” The new Act also provides incentives to promote tax compliance through bonus reductions in CIT for early remittance: Two percent bonus for medium-size companies  One percent bonus for other companies.” On the Personal Income Tax Act, the new Act now includes “electronic mail” as an acceptable form of correspondence for persons disputing assessments by the Tax Authorities.

Also, contributions to Pension and Retirement Funds, Societies and Schemes are now unconditionally tax-deductible. The new Act stipulates that the N50 Stamp duty charge is now applicable only to transactions amounting to N10,000 and above, a significant increase on the former threshold of N1,000. It also expands the list of items exempted from stamp duty. On Customs and Excise Tariff, the Act reduces unfair advantages previously conferred on imported goods at the expense of locally manufactured ones, certain imported goods are now subject to excise duties similar to locally manufactured goods.

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