Withholding Tax on Contract in Nigeria

As a freelancer or business owner, working on a contract basis in Nigeria, you may have heard of the withholding tax. It is a tax that is imposed on payments made to contractors or freelancers for services rendered. Understanding what withholding tax is and how it applies to your business is important. In this article, we will give you an overview of withholding tax on contracts in Nigeria and how it could affect your business.

What is Withholding Tax?

According to the Nigerian tax law, withholding tax is a tax deducted at the source of income, which means it is deducted before the payment for a service is made. The tax is deducted by the payer and remitted to the government on behalf of the payee. The tax is generally imposed on payments made to non-residents, such as foreign contractors or freelancers, but also applies to residents.

The rate of withholding tax varies depending on the type of service rendered. In Nigeria, the withholding tax rate on contracts is 5% for non-residents and 10% for residents.

Applying Withholding Tax to Contracts

If your business deals with contractors or freelancers, it is important to understand how withholding tax is applied to contracts. The tax is applicable to any payment made for services rendered, including payments made to non-residents. The tax is also applicable to payments made to residents, but the rate is different.

To apply withholding tax to contracts in Nigeria, the payer must withhold a certain percentage of the payment made to the contractor. The withholding tax is then remitted to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on behalf of the contractor or freelancer. Failure to remit the withholding tax is an offence that could lead to penalties.

Implications of Withholding Tax on Contracts

Withholding tax has several implications for contracts in Nigeria. Firstly, it affects the payment structure for contractors and freelancers. These individuals must be aware of the withholding tax rate and factor it into their fee structure to ensure they receive their expected payment.

Secondly, withholding tax can affect the profitability of contracts. If the rate of withholding tax is high, it could eat into the profit margins of contractors, making it less attractive to work in Nigeria as a contractor or freelancer.

Thirdly, non-compliance with the withholding tax provisions under Nigerian tax law could lead to legal and financial liabilities for both the payer and the payee.


In conclusion, withholding tax is an important part of the Nigerian tax law that affects payments made to contractors and freelancers. Understanding the implications of withholding tax on contracts in Nigeria is essential for businesses that deal with contractors or freelancers. By understanding how withholding tax applies to contracts, businesses can ensure compliance with tax laws and avoid legal and financial liabilities. Knowing the correct tax rate and how to remit the withholding tax to the appropriate authorities is also important for contractors and freelancers operating in Nigeria.

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