Taxation is a critical component of Nigeria’s economic policy and public finance management. It is one of the  primary means for the government to generate revenue, essential for funding public goods and services, redistributing wealth, and managing economic stability. Like many other countries, Nigeria has a complex tax system comprising various types of taxes at federal, state, and local government levels. This essay explores Nigeria’s different types of taxes, their significance, and their impact on the economy.

Types of Taxes in Nigeria

  • Personal Income Tax
  • Company Income Tax
  • Value Added Tax
  • Withholding Tax
  • Petroleum Profits Tax
  • Education Tax
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Stamp Duties
  • Customs and Excise Duties
  • Property Taxes

1. Personal Income Tax

Types of Taxes in Nigeria-personal income tax

Personal Income Tax (PIT) is levied on the income of individuals, partnerships, trustees, and estates. Under the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA), individuals are taxed progressively, meaning that higher-income earners pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes. The tax rates range from 7% to 24%, with various allowances and reliefs reducing the taxable income. PIT is administered by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for residents of the Federal Capital Territory and employees of the federal government. At the same time, state tax authorities handle it for residents of other states.

2. Company Income Tax

Types of Taxes in Nigeria-company income tax

Company Income Tax (CIT) is imposed on the profits of corporate entities operating in Nigeria. Governed by the Companies Income Tax Act (CITA), the standard rate is 30% of taxable profits. However, small companies with a turnover of less than NGN 25 million are exempt from CIT, and medium-sized companies with a turnover between NGN 25 million and NGN 100 million are taxed at a reduced rate of 20%. CIT is crucial for government revenue but is often criticised for its complexity and the administrative burden it places on businesses.

3. Value Added Tax

Types of Taxes in Nigeria-Value added tax

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax levied on the supply of goods and services. The VAT Act prescribes a standard rate of 7.5%, which was increased from 5% in February 2020 to boost government revenue. VAT is a multi-stage tax, which is charged at each stage of the production and distribution chain. Businesses collect VAT on behalf of the government and remit it to the FIRS. This tax is essential for generating substantial revenue but can be regressive, affecting lower-income individuals disproportionately.

4. Withholding Tax

Withholding Tax (WHT) is an advance payment of income tax. It is deducted at source on various types of payments such as contracts, dividends, rents, interests, and royalties. The rates vary depending on the payment type and the recipient’s residency status, typically ranging from 5% to 10%. WHT serves as a mechanism to curb tax evasion and ensure steady revenue inflow for the government.

5. Petroleum Profits Tax

Types of Taxes in Nigeria-petroleum profit tax

Petroleum Profits Tax (PPT) is specific to companies engaged in petroleum operations. Under the Petroleum Profits Tax Act (PPTA), companies are taxed at a rate of 85% on their chargeable profits, which can be reduced to 50% for companies operating under Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). PPT is a major source of revenue for Nigeria, given the country’s significant oil and gas resources. The tax regime for the petroleum sector is critical for attracting investment while ensuring that the country benefits from its natural resources.

6. Education Tax

Education tax

Education Tax, also known as Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Tax, is levied on all companies registered in Nigeria at a rate of 2% of their assessable profits. The revenue generated from this tax is earmarked for funding educational institutions and improving the quality of education. The TETFund is responsible for disbursing the funds to various tertiary institutions for projects that enhance academic standards and infrastructure.

7. Capital Gains Tax

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is charged on the profit from selling capital assets such as real estate, stocks, and bonds. The CGT rate is 10% of the gain realised from the disposal of the asset. This tax aims to tax wealth and is an important tool for wealth redistribution, although its effectiveness depends on the efficiency of the tax administration system.

8. Stamp Duties

Stamp Duties are taxes levied on documents and transactions, including legal documents, financial instruments, and contractual agreements. The rates vary depending on the nature of the document and the transaction amount. Stamp Duties are collected by both federal and state governments, and the revenue is used for various developmental projects.

9. Customs and Excise Duties

Customs Duties are taxes imposed on imports, while Excise Duties are levied on certain locally manufactured goods. These duties serve multiple purposes, including generating revenue, protecting local industries, and controlling the import and export of certain goods. The rates vary depending on the type of goods and their classification under the Nigerian Customs Tariff.

10. Property Taxes

property taxes

Property Taxes are imposed on the ownership of real estate properties. These taxes are typically managed by local governments and are based on the property’s value. Property Taxes are vital for local government revenue and are used to fund infrastructure and public services within the locality.

Significance and Impact

The Nigerian tax system is designed to ensure equitable revenue generation from various economic activities. However, it faces challenges such as tax evasion, a large informal sector, and administrative inefficiencies. Improving tax compliance and administration is crucial for maximising the benefits of taxation. Effective tax policies can promote economic growth, improve public services, and reduce inequality.

The impact of taxes on the Nigerian economy is multifaceted. Personal and corporate taxes influence disposable income and investment decisions. Consumption taxes like VAT affect consumer prices and spending behaviour. Sector-specific taxes like PPT significantly impact the oil and gas industry, which is vital for Nigeria’s economy. Education and property taxes also play critical roles in funding essential services and infrastructure development.

Main Tax Systems

Tax systems around the world can be broadly categorised based on how taxes are levied and collected. The three main types of tax systems are:

  • Progressive Tax System: In a progressive tax system, the tax rate increases as the taxable amount increases. This system ensures that higher-income individuals or entities pay a higher percentage of their income or profits in taxes. Progressive taxes are often fairer because they reduce the tax burden on lower-income earners and impose a higher burden on those who can afford to pay more. Common examples include personal income tax and estate taxes.
  • Regressive Tax System: A regressive tax system imposes a higher tax burden on lower-income individuals than their income. In this system, the tax rate decreases as the taxable amount increases. Consumption taxes like sales tax and VAT can be considered regressive because they take a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than high-income earners. Regressive taxes are often criticised for exacerbating income inequality.
  • Proportional (Flat) Tax System: In a proportional tax system, the tax rate is constant, regardless of the amount subject to tax. This means everyone pays the same percentage of their income or profits, regardless of their earnings. Proportional taxes are straightforward and easy to administer but may not address equity concerns as effectively as progressive taxes. Examples include certain types of corporate and flat-rate personal income taxes in some jurisdictions.

What Type of Tax System Does Nigeria Use?

Nigeria primarily employs a progressive tax system for its personal income tax, where tax rates increase with higher income levels. This approach is intended to ensure that individuals with higher incomes contribute a larger share of their earnings to the state, which helps to redistribute wealth and reduce income inequality. Nigeria’s personal income tax rates range from 7% to 24%, depending on the income bracket.

However, Nigeria also incorporates elements of proportional and regressive tax systems in other areas of its tax regime:

  • Proportional Tax System: The Company Income Tax (CIT) in Nigeria is proportional for medium and large companies. The CIT rate is a flat 30% on taxable profits for large companies and 20% for medium-sized companies with turnover between NGN 25 million and NGN 100 million. This flat rate applies regardless of the amount of profit, making it proportional within its respective category.
  • Regressive Tax System: The value-added tax (VAT) in Nigeria, currently set at 7.5%, is a regressive tax. Since VAT is a consumption tax applied uniformly to all goods and services, it tends to take a larger percentage of income from lower-income individuals than from higher-income earners. This regressive nature is a common critique of consumption taxes globally.

Nigeria’s tax system also includes other types of taxes, such as withholding tax, petroleum profits tax, education tax, capital gains tax, stamp duties, and customs and excise duties, each with its specific rates and structures. These taxes collectively contribute to the overall revenue system, with varying impacts on different income groups and economic activities.


Taxation in Nigeria encompasses a diverse range of taxes designed to tap into various economic activities and sources of wealth. Each type of tax has its significance, mechanisms, and impact on the economy. While the tax system is a critical tool for revenue generation and economic management, addressing challenges such as evasion and administrative inefficiencies is vital for optimising its benefits. Nigeria can enhance its fiscal health and ensure sustainable economic growth by refining its tax policies and improving compliance.