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Stop stamp duty tax, reduce cost of governance, Onitiri urges FG

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Why landlords can’t increase rent, by FIRS

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to stop the planned imposition of six per cent stamp duty tax on tenants, as it is capable of further impoverishing the masses that are currently bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.

A renowned socio-political activist and critic, Chief Adesunbo Onitiri, who made the appeal in a statement in Lagos, said the timing was wrong and would make life unbearable for Nigerians, who are already saddled with heavy taxes.

Onitiri pointed out that Nigerians could not be held responsible for the reckless fraud and incompetence in government, saying that it is the duty of government to serve the people with dividends of democracy and not to impoverish them.

“It is a pity that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that is supposed to protect the interest of the people and other human rights organisations have allegedly compromised.

“Besides, the fighting spirit of the masses has been eroded by poverty. This does not mean that the government should continue to turn Nigerians into weeping, helpless people and punching bag.

“The take-home pay of most Nigerians has not been increased and their purchasing power has been eroded. The minimum wage has not been successfully implemented by most state governments,” Onitiri added.

Meanwhile, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has insisted that there is no basis for rent increment in relation to the stamp duty payable on tenancy and lease agreement by tenants in the country.

It said that tenants, not landlords, should pay the applicable stamp duty by themselves at any commercial bank of their choice, not to any landlord.

Executive Chairman, FIRS, Mr. Mohammad Mamman Nami, gave this clarification in Abuja on Tuesday as part of his ongoing national public enlightenment campaign on the Stamp Duty Act.

Nami, who spoke during a live radio programme, “The Mid-day Dialogue” on Nigeria Info FM Abuja, stated that since the responsibility of stamp duty payment was not that of the landlords, there was no justifiable reasons for any landlord to increase rent purportedly on account of the stamp duty which is chargeable on the instrument of the transaction, that is, the tenancy or lease agreement or receipt exchanged between the landlords and the tenants, and not the actual rent fee the landlords are collecting from tenants.

His words: “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.”

Nami also disclosed that the Finance Act 2019 has exempted 60 per cent of tax-payers, including Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs), from paying tax as only companies, which make up to N25 million turnover now pay tax or collect Value Added Tax (VAT).


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