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Tax Compliance in Nigeria: A Freelancer’s Guide

Last Updated on July 26, 2023


As a freelancer in Nigeria, it is essential to understand tax compliance.

Tax compliance refers to adhering to the rules and regulations set by the government concerning taxes.

It involves paying the appropriate taxes and submitting the required documents.

As a freelancer, tax compliance is crucial because it helps you avoid getting into trouble with the law. Failure to comply with tax regulations can lead to stiff penalties and legal action.

In Nigeria, the tax system can be quite complicated, and freelancers need to understand what is expected of them.

The country has a self-assessment tax system, which means that individuals are responsible for determining their taxable income, calculating their taxes, and filing their returns.

It is crucial to note that tax compliance in Nigeria has become even more critical with the recent reforms aimed at increasing government revenue.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has made it easier for freelancers to comply with tax regulations by introducing an online platform for filing tax returns.

Most Importantly, tax compliance is crucial for freelancers in Nigeria. Failure to comply with tax regulations can lead to stiff penalties and legal action.

Therefore, it is essential to understand the tax system in Nigeria and comply with the regulations to avoid any legal issues.

Read: Legal Implications of Freelancing in Nigeria: A Brief

Types of Taxes in Nigeria

As a freelancer in Nigeria, it is important to have an understanding of the different types of taxes that you may encounter.

These taxes are imposed by the federal, state, and local governments and failure to comply with tax obligations may result in penalties or legal action.

This section will discuss the most common taxes that freelancers need to be aware of.

A. Personal Income Tax

Personal income tax is a tax on the income of individuals and is payable to the state government where the individual resides or is employed.

As a freelancer, you are liable to pay personal income tax on your earnings from freelance work. The tax rate varies depending on income level and ranges from 5% to 24%.

It is important to keep track of your income and pay your personal income tax promptly to avoid penalties and interest charges.

B. Value Added Tax

Value Added Tax (VAT) is imposed on goods and services supplied in Nigeria.

As a freelancer providing services to a Nigerian client, you must charge 7.5% VAT on your services.

You must remit this amount to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) monthly.

Not complying may lead to penalties and legal action.

C. Withholding Tax

Withholding tax is deducted at the source from payments made to freelancers for certain services.

If you provide services to a Nigerian client, they must deduct withholding tax before paying you.

The rate of withholding tax varies depending on the type of service provided and ranges from 2.5% to 10%.

The client is then required to remit this amount to the tax authority on behalf of the freelancer.

D. Company Income Tax

Company income tax is a tax imposed on the profits of a company in Nigeria.

If you operate as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or register your business as a company, you are liable to pay company income tax on the gains or profits made in a financial year.

The tax rate is 30% of the profit made in that financial year and is payable to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Ultimately, as a freelancer in Nigeria, understanding the tax requirements and compliance obligations is important to avoid penalties or legal action.

It is advisable to keep accurate records of your income and expenditure, register your business if necessary and seek professional advice on tax matters to ensure compliance.

Read: Overcoming Challenges in Freelance Marketing in Nigeria

Tax Obligations for Freelancers in Nigeria

As a freelancer in Nigeria, it is crucial to understand your tax obligations to avoid running afoul of the law.

Here are the tax obligations you should know:

A. Registration for taxpayer identification number (TPIN)

Every freelancer in Nigeria is required to register for a tax payer identification number (TPIN). The TPIN serves as your unique identifier for all tax-related matters in Nigeria.

It is issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and can be obtained online or at any FIRS tax office.

To register for TPIN, you will need to provide your personal details, business details (if applicable), and proof of address. Once registered, you will be issued a certificate of registration with your TPIN.

B. Filing of tax returns

As a Nigerian freelancer, you must file your tax returns annually, submitting them to the FIRS by 31st March of the following tax year.

The tax year in Nigeria is from 1st January to 31st December of each year.

As a freelancer, your tax returns should include details of your income, expenses, and tax paid during the tax year. You can file your tax returns online or at any FIRS tax office.

C. Payment of taxes

Freelancers in Nigeria must pay taxes promptly. Online via FIRS e-payment or at any FIRS office.

Tax liability depends on income & tax rates. The tax rates in Nigeria range from 0% to 24% depending on your income level.

D. Penalties for non-compliance

Non-compliance with your tax obligations as a freelancer in Nigeria can attract penalties and sanctions.

If you fail to register for TPIN, file your tax returns or pay your taxes promptly, you may be liable to pay penalties and interest on the outstanding tax.

The FIRS may also impose other sanctions such as the sealing of your business premises or assets, prosecution, and imprisonment.


As a freelancer in Nigeria, understanding your tax obligations is important for compliance and to avoid penalties.

Registering for TPIN, filing your tax returns promptly, paying your taxes promptly, and avoiding non-compliance is key to maintaining a good tax standing in Nigeria.

Consulting with a tax professional can also help you understand your tax obligations better and help you avoid running afoul of the law.

Read: Freelancers: Building Trust in the Nigerian Market

Tax Compliance in Nigeria A Freelancer's Guide

Record Keeping for Tax Purposes

As a freelancer in Nigeria, keeping proper records is vital for tax compliance.

Not keeping records accurately can lead to inaccurate tax filing, penalties, and even legal consequences.

Here’s what you need to know about record-keeping for tax purposes.

A. Importance of Keeping Records

  • Record keeping is essential to prove income and expenses in case of a tax audit.

  • It helps in calculating taxes owed to the government accurately.

  • It simplifies the preparation of financial statements such as profit and loss statements and balance sheets.

  • Proper record keeping also helps in identifying areas of potential tax savings.

B. What to Include in Records

  • Keep copies of all tax returns, both federal and state.

  • Track all sources of income, including client payments, interest income, and dividends.

  • Record all business expenses, including office expenses, travel costs, and equipment purchases.

  • Keep track of inventory and goods purchased for resale, if applicable.

C. Tips for Record Keeping

  • Use accounting software to simplify the process and ensure accuracy.

  • Create a separate business bank account to keep business transactions separate from personal transactions.

  • Keep physical copies of receipts and invoices in case of an audit.

  • Make a habit of recording income and expenses regularly – daily, weekly, or monthly.

Infact, keeping proper records is essential for any freelancer in Nigeria who wants to comply with tax laws and regulations.

It not only helps in avoiding penalties but also aids in ensuring accurate tax filing, achieving tax savings, and preparing financial statements.

As a freelancer, make sure to follow the tips above to keep accurate records, making tax compliance a breeze.

Read: Paying Your Freelance Taxes: A How-To for Nigerians

Tips for Freelancers in Ensuring Tax Compliance

As a freelancer, tax compliance is an essential aspect of maintaining a good financial standing.

Here are tips to ensure tax compliance:

A. Seek professional advice

  • Consult with a tax professional or accountant to get clarity on tax laws and your obligations.

  • Ask questions and seek clarification on any tax-related issue, especially if you are unsure or have doubts.

B. Understand tax laws and regulations

  • Familiarize yourself with tax laws and regulations applicable to your category of freelance work.

  • Stay updated on changes in tax laws and regulations to avoid penalties and non-compliance.

  • Visit the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) website, attend seminars or workshops, and read relevant publications to keep yourself informed.

C. Keep accurate records

  • Keep records of all business transactions – income, expenses, and invoices.

  • Track your income and expenses using tools like spreadsheets or specialized software.

  • Make sure to keep financial records for at least six years, as the FIRS can audit your accounts for up to six years.

D. Plan and budget for taxes

  • Set aside a percentage of your income for tax payments.

  • Use tax calculators online to estimate your tax liability and plan accordingly.

  • Pay your taxes promptly to avoid late payment penalties and interest charges that can accumulate over time.

  • Plan for tax season in advance, so that you are not caught off guard or overwhelmed with the process.

Ensuring tax compliance is vital to the growth and sustainability of your freelance business.

By seeking professional advice, understanding tax laws and regulations, keeping accurate records, and planning and budgeting for taxes, you can ensure that you are tax compliant and avoid penalties and legal issues that can arise from non-compliance.


A freelancer’s guide to tax compliance in Nigeria emphasizes the importance of fulfilling tax obligations to avoid legal and financial repercussions.

Here, we have discussed the significance of keeping proper records, filing accurate tax returns on time, and paying the correct amount of tax.

As a freelancer, you should also be aware of the various laws and regulations that apply to your business. You should seek professional help if you are unsure about any tax matter.

To summarize, tax compliance is an integral part of running a business in Nigeria, including freelancing.

Failing to comply with tax laws can lead to heavy fines, interest, and penalties, which is detrimental to your business’s financial health.

As a final reminder, always be proactive in handling tax matters as early as possible to avoid last-minute stress. Complying with tax laws is a legal and moral obligation that every freelancer in Nigeria must fulfill.

Let us work together to build a stronger and more sustainable Nigerian economy by complying with tax laws and regulations.

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