Taxation is an essential aspect of any country’s economic system, and Nigeria is no exception. As a Nigerian taxpayer, it’s crucial to understand the various types of taxes, including withholding tax (WHT), which is a form of tax deduction at source. In this article, I will provide a basic overview of withholding tax in Nigeria, explaining what it is, how it works, and its implications for individuals and businesses.

What is Withholding Tax?

Withholding tax (WHT) is a tax deducted at source from payments made by one person to another, typically by a company or an individual, on behalf of the Nigerian government. The person making the payment is legally required to withhold a certain percentage of the payment and remit it directly to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which is the tax authority in Nigeria.

How Does Withholding Tax Work?

Withholding tax is deducted from various types of payments, including but not limited to contracts, services, professional fees, rent, dividends, interest, royalties, and management fees. The rate of withholding tax depends on the type of payment and is specified in the Nigerian tax laws. For instance, as of the time of writing this article, the withholding tax rate on dividends is 10%, while the rate on rent is 10% for individuals and 15% for companies.

The person making the payment is responsible for calculating the withholding tax amount, deducting it from the total payment, and remitting it to the FIRS within a specified timeframe. Failure to remit the withholding tax within the stipulated time can result in penalties and interest charges.

Implications of Withholding Tax

Withholding tax has implications for both the payer and the payee. For the payer, it is a legal obligation to withhold and remit the correct amount of withholding tax to the tax authority. Failure to do so can result in penalties, interest charges, and legal repercussions.

For the payee, withholding tax affects the actual amount received. For example, if a contractor provides services worth 100,000 Naira and the withholding tax rate is 5%, the payer will deduct 5,000 Naira as withholding tax and remit the remaining 95,000 Naira to the contractor. The contractor would only receive the net amount of 95,000 Naira, and the withheld 5,000 Naira would be remitted to the tax authority on their behalf.

It is important to note that withholding tax is not a final tax liability but rather a prepayment of the payee’s tax liability. The payee is still required to file their annual tax returns and include the withheld tax as part of their total tax liability. If the withheld tax exceeds their actual tax liability, they may be eligible for a tax refund or credit.

Exemptions and Exclusions

There are certain exemptions and exclusions to withholding tax in Nigeria. For example, some types of income, such as dividends paid to Nigerian companies, are exempt from withholding tax. Additionally, some persons or entities may be excluded from withholding tax if they meet certain criteria or obtain appropriate tax clearance certificates.


Withholding tax is an important aspect of the Nigerian tax system, and understanding its basics is crucial for taxpayers, both as payers and payees. As a taxpayer, it’s important to ensure compliance with the withholding tax obligations by accurately calculating and remitting the correct amount to the tax authority within the specified timeframe. As a payee, it is important to be aware of the withholding tax implications on the actual amount received and to include the withheld tax as part of the annual tax filing process. This serves as a reduction in the total tax liability the tax payer will suffer.