The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr. Muhammad Babandede, (CGNIS) has directed that effective from 1 April 2021, all expatriates, including nationals of the Economic Community of West African States, must present evidence of tax payment in order to renew their resident and work permits by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). This directive is in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Sections 37 and 39 of the Immigration Act, 2015.
Therefore, all applications for renewal of residence and work permits must, in addition to other requirements, include copies of valid tax clearance certificates (TCCs), Personal Income Tax (PIT) remittance schedules and evidence of payment of PIT due before the application can be processed.
The CGNIS’ decision to include submission of evidence of tax payments as part of the requirements for renewal of residence and work permits of expatriates working in Nigeria aligns with the government’s drive for tax compliance in Nigeria.
The new directive may affect the R11 Temporary Work Permit (TWP) visa which allows foreign nationals to reside and work in Nigeria temporarily for up to 6 months. Although the process for the issuance of this category of visa is yet to commence at the Nigerian Missions Abroad, we expect the NIS to issue further clarification in this regard. Meanwhile, the NIS may need to review its directive to ensure consistency with Section 10(1) of the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA), as amended, which exempts the income of an expatriate, who is employed temporarily in Nigeria (i.e., under a TWP), from tax where:
- the duties of his employment are performed on behalf of a non-resident employer and his remuneration is not charged to the fixed base of the company in Nigeria;
- he is not in Nigeria for an aggregate of 183 days or more in any twelve month period; and
- his income is taxable in the country of his employer.
Consequently, such expatriates who are eligible for income tax exemption under Section 10(1) of the PIT Act should not be required to present evidence of tax payments when renewing their TWP. Otherwise, the NIS will be imposing a tax obligation where none exists in the tax law. It is hoped that the NIS will be guided accordingly.
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