By Bashir Olanrewaju
Nigerians rejoicing at a recent court ruling declaring stamp duties illegal are doing so prematurely, according to a statement by the Joint Tax Board.
JTB, as the body is known, is the highest decision-making organ on taxes in the country, bringing together states and the federal internal revenues services.
The provisions of the 2019 Finance Act overtook the case on which Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Asaba, passed judgment last week, the board said in a statement posted on Twitter. The ruling had rejected as illegal a central bank circular directing banks to collect stamp duties.
“The Finance Act of 2019 has laid to rest the question of legality and authority to charge and collect 50 naira stamp stamp duty charges on electronic transactions, teller deposits or transfers,” the JTB said in a statement signed by its chairman, Muhammad Nami, the head of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
The Asaba ruling “only nullified the CBN circular in question and not the 50 naira stamp duty and also reaffirmed the position of the tax authorities in Nigeria as having the right to administer stamp duty matters,” the board added in the statement.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has leaned on taxes to boost government revenue following the drop in income from oil exports as prices tumbled from 2015, when the regime first came to power.
While stamp duties were first introduced in Nigeria under British colonial rule, the CBN under Godwin Emefiele as the governor, gave the law a very liberal interpretation two years ago to extend its application to money transfers and deposits.