Stamp Duty: Landlords can’t increase rent, says FIRS *****Asks tenants to pay directly

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on Tuesday insisted that landlords in the country have no basis for rent increment in relation to the stamp duty payable on tenancy and lease agreement by tenants.

The Service in a statement said 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 Midday Dialogue”, on Nigeria Info FM Abuja, stated that since the responsibility of stamp duty payment was not that of the landlord, there were 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 tenant, and not the actual rental fee the landlord is collecting from tenants.

His words: ‘The stamp duty is charged at graduated rates. Stamp duty on rent or lease from 1 year to less than 7 years is 0.78%. 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 7 to 21 years, your stamp duty is 3% on the rent. If you can afford to pay rent at once from 21 years and above the stamp duty due is 6%, 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 7 years, you should calculate 0.78% of the amount, go to a nearby bank and ask to pay the 0.78% 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-ten storey building.’

Nami also disclosed that the Finance Act 2019 has exempted 60% of taxpayers, 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). 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 stressed that the global economic downturn occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic has made it necessary for the three tiers of government to close tax loopholes in the country 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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