11 Feb GEPLAW FOCUS ISSUE 33A
Since the fall in oil prices in 2016, the Nigerian government has implemented various fiscal legislations, guidelines and policies in its attempt to raise finances to fund the country’s budget deficit. This has resulted in a greater focus being placed on some other key sectors of the economy and other revenue generating avenues to ease the overdependence on oil-based revenue. One of such alternative revenue sources now in focus is taxation,which has endured a barrage of laws, schemes and amendments in recent years.
Most recently, the Finance Act of 2019, enacted on 13th January, 2020, makes several amendments to extant laws which impact tax administration in Nigeria, such as the Capital Income Tax Act CAP C21 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act CAP V1 LFN 2007, amongst others.
In light of this new legislation, this article aims to examine the current position of the law on the applicability of VAT on real estate transactions.
2.0. VAT and the Conveyance of Interest in Land
Interests in land are considered to be in rem proprietary rights which fall within the ambit of incorporeal property. Incorporeal property is any legal right with value,which has no physical existence e.g. patent rights, intellectual property, lease or mortgage. Such rights give the owner a set of legally enforceable rights, either over tangible property or over the ownership of intangible property. Land sale transactions involve the conveyance of interest in landed property from one person to another, whether by purchase, inheritance, gift or any other form. The interest transferred under such transactions is referred to as incorporeal property.