Go back to blog homepage

Sole Trader Tax in Nigeria: Everything You Need to Know

In Nigeria, a sole trader or sole proprietorship refers to a business structure where an individual is the exclusive owner, operator, and decision-maker of the enterprise. As a sole trader, you have complete control over the business. You are entitled to all profits generated, but you're also solely responsible for any debts or liabilities incurred. Understanding sole trader tax is crucial to ensuring compliance with Nigerian tax laws and avoiding potential penalties. Proper tax planning and reporting can help maximize profits and maintain the financial health of your business.

The appeal of the sole trader structure lies in its simplicity and ease of setup. There are fewer legal formalities compared to other business structures like partnerships or limited liability companies. This flexibility allows sole traders to quickly adapt to market changes and make swift decisions.

Key Taxes for Nigerian Sole Traders

Personal Income Tax (PIT)

As a sole trader, your business income is treated as personal income and subject to Personal Income Tax (PIT) based on a progressive tax rate structure. The tax rates for PIT range from 7% to 24%, with higher income levels attracting higher tax rates.

Your business income is combined with any other personal income sources, such as employment income or investment income, to determine your total taxable income for the year. Allowable deductions, such as business expenses, can be subtracted from your gross income to arrive at your taxable income.

It's important to maintain accurate records of your business income and expenses to ensure you're claiming all eligible deductions and correctly reporting your taxable income.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax levied on the supply of goods and services in Nigeria. Sole traders whose annual turnover exceeds ₦25,000,000 (twenty-five million Naira) are required to register for VAT and charge VAT on their goods and services at the standard rate of 7.5%.

For sole traders registered for VAT, it's essential to calculate the VAT charged on your sales, collect it from your customers, and remit it to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) on a regular basis, typically monthly or quarterly.

Other Potential Taxes

Depending on your business activities and location, you may also be subject to other taxes, such as:

● State or local government taxes: Some states or local government areas may impose additional taxes or levies on businesses operating within their jurisdiction.

● Industry-specific taxes: Certain industries may have specific taxes or fees imposed by regulatory bodies.

It's advisable to consult with a tax professional or relevant authorities to ensure you're aware of and compliant with all applicable taxes for your sole proprietorship.

Registering Your Sole Proprietorship

Process Overview

Registering your sole proprietorship with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is a crucial step in establishing your business in Nigeria. The process involves the following steps:

  1. Prepare the Required Documents: Gather the necessary documents, such as a completed registration form, means of identification, and proof of address.
  2. Conduct a Name Search: Ensure that your desired business name is available and not already registered by another entity.
  3. Submit the Application: Submit your application, supporting documents, and pay the required fees to the CAC.
  4. Obtain Certificates: Once your application is approved, you'll receive a Certificate of Registration and a Business Name Certificate, which officially recognizes your sole proprietorship.

It's important to note that registering your business name with the CAC does not automatically grant you a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), which is required for tax purposes.

Tax Implications

After registering your sole proprietorship, you must obtain a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) from the relevant tax authority. Typically, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) or your state's Internal Revenue Service.

Your TIN is essential for filing tax returns, making tax payments, and ensuring compliance with Nigerian tax laws. Failure to obtain a TIN or file tax returns can result in penalties and legal consequences.

It's advisable to consult with a tax professional or the relevant tax authorities to ensure you understand and fulfil all registration obligations.

Record Keeping and Filing Requirements

Best Practices

Maintaining accurate and organized records is crucial for sole traders to track income, expenses, and calculate tax liabilities correctly. Implement the following best practices:

  1. Separate Business and Personal Finances: Open a dedicated business bank account and keep personal and business transactions separate.
  2. Record Keeping System: Establish a system for recording all business income and expenses, whether through manual bookkeeping or accounting software.
  3. Document Management: Keep organized files for receipts, invoices, and other financial documents to support your records.
  4. Regular Review: Periodically review your records to ensure accuracy and identify any discrepancies or missing information.

Proper record keeping not only facilitates tax compliance but also provides valuable insights into your business's financial performance.

Tax Deadlines

As a sole trader in Nigeria, you must be aware of the following key tax deadlines:

Personal Income Tax (PIT): PIT returns and payments are typically due annually, with deadlines varying by state. For example, in Lagos State, the deadline is March 31st of the following year.

Value Added Tax (VAT): VAT returns and payments are typically due monthly or quarterly, depending on your business's turnover. The deadline is usually the 21st day of the following month or quarter.

Failure to file tax returns or make payments by the respective deadlines can result in penalties and interest charges.


In Nigeria, sole traders are required to file tax returns based on a self-assessment system. This means you're responsible for calculating your taxable income, determining your tax liability, and making the appropriate tax payments.

To self-assess your tax liability, you'll need to:

  1. Calculate Your Taxable Income: Subtract allowable deductions from your gross business income and any other personal income sources.
  2. Determine Your Tax Rate: Apply the progressive tax rates to your taxable income to calculate your Personal Income Tax liability.
  3. Include Other Taxes: Factor in any additional taxes, such as VAT or state/local taxes, if applicable.
  4. File Your Returns: Submit your tax returns and make the required payments by the deadlines.

Maintaining accurate records and seeking professional assistance can help ensure you correctly self-assess your tax liability. This will also help you avoid penalties for underpayment or late payments.

Looking for a Sole Trader Loan and don’t where to start from? Start with nairaCompare! nairaCompare steps in, your one-stop platform for finding the perfect sole trader loan.

Why nairaCompare?

  • Wide Range of Loan Options: Compare offerings from trusted lenders, ensuring you get the best rates and terms for your specific needs.
  • Fast & Easy Application: Forget about site-hopping! Our user-friendly platform streamlines the process, saving you valuable time and effort.
  • Expert Guidance: Our dedicated team is here to answer your questions and guide you through the entire loan application process, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience.

Don't let funding hold you back! Visit nairaCompare!

sole trader tax

Tax Incentives and Reliefs

Available Incentives

The Nigerian government recognizes the importance of small businesses, including sole proprietorships, in driving economic growth and creating employment opportunities. As such, various tax incentives and reliefs are available to support and encourage entrepreneurship:

  1. Pioneer Status Incentive: This incentive grants companies operating in certain industries a tax holiday for an initial period. Its typically between three to five years, renewable for an additional one or two years.
  2. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Relief: Sole proprietorships classified as SMEs may be eligible for reduced corporate income tax rates. Currently it is set at 20% for companies with gross turnover between ₦25 million and ₦100 million.
  3. Tax Exemption on Dividends: Dividends paid out of retained earnings are exempt from further taxation. This provides tax relief for reinvested profits.
  4. Capital Allowances: Sole traders can claim capital allowances (tax deductions) on qualifying capital expenditures.
  5. Export Incentives: Businesses engaged in export activities may qualify for various incentives. Incentives may include export expansion grants, export development funds, and tax relief on export-related profits.


To qualify for these incentives and reliefs, sole traders must meet certain eligibility criteria, which may include:

  • Operating in specific sectors or industries designated for incentives.
  • Meeting the definition and requirements for small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
  • Maintaining proper records and filing accurate tax returns
  • Complying with relevant regulations and obtaining necessary approvals or certifications

It's advisable to consult with tax professionals or relevant government agencies to understand the specific eligibility criteria and application processes for each incentive or relief program.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Types of Penalties

Failure to comply with Nigerian tax laws and regulations as a sole trader can result in various penalties and consequences:

  1. Late Filing Penalties: If you fail to file your tax returns by the prescribed deadlines, you may be subject to late filing penalties. This can be substantial and increase over time.
  2. Late Payment Penalties and Interest: Late payment of taxes can result in penalties and interest charges. These can accumulate rapidly and significantly increase your tax liability.
  3. Underpayment Penalties: If you understate your taxable income or underpay your taxes, you may face penalties based on the amount of tax underpaid.
  4. Criminal Penalties: In cases of wilful tax evasion or fraud, you may face criminal charges, fines, and potentially imprisonment.
  5. Increased Scrutiny and Audits: Non-compliance can also lead to increased scrutiny from tax authorities. This can potentially result in audits and further enforcement actions.

Strategies for Avoiding Penalties

To avoid penalties and maintain tax compliance, sole traders should implement the following strategies:

  1. Accurate Record Keeping: Maintain detailed and organized records of all business income, expenses, and transactions to ensure accurate tax reporting.
  2. Timely Filing and Payment: File tax returns and make tax payments by the prescribed deadlines to avoid late filing and payment penalties.
  3. Seek Professional Assistance: Consult with tax professionals or advisors to ensure you understand and comply with all applicable tax laws and regulations.
  4. Tax Planning: Engage in proactive tax planning to minimize your tax liability while remaining compliant with tax laws.
  5. Stay Updated: Regularly review changes in tax laws and regulations to ensure you're aware of any updates or new requirements.

By prioritizing tax compliance and adopting best practices, sole traders can avoid costly penalties and maintain a positive relationship with tax authorities.

Getting Professional Help

When to Seek Assistance

While many sole traders may attempt to handle their tax affairs independently, there are certain situations where seeking professional assistance can be highly beneficial:

  1. Complex Tax Situations: If your business operations, income sources, or financial structures are complex, involving multiple revenue streams or cross-border transactions, professional guidance can help ensure you comply with all applicable tax laws and minimize your tax liability.
  2. Business Growth and Expansion: As your sole proprietorship grows and expands, your tax obligations may become more intricate. You may need the expertise of a tax professional to navigate the changing landscape effectively.
  3. Tax Planning and Optimization: Tax professionals can provide valuable insights and strategies for tax planning and optimization. This will help you take advantage of available incentives, deductions, and legal tax-saving opportunities.
  4. Audits and Tax Disputes: If you face an audit or tax dispute with the relevant authorities, having a tax professional represent your interests can increase your chances of a favourable outcome.
  5. Changes in Tax Laws: Tax laws and regulations are subject to frequent changes, and a professional can help you stay updated.

Finding Qualified Help

When seeking professional tax assistance, it's essential to find a qualified and reputable tax advisor or accountant who specializes in serving sole proprietorships and small businesses. Here are some tips for finding qualified help:

  1. Referrals and Recommendations: Ask for referrals from other business owners, industry associations, or professionals you trust.
  2. Professional Credentials: Look for professionals with relevant credentials, such as Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), Chartered Accountants (CAs), or tax professionals certified by recognized bodies like the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN).
  3. Experience and Specialization: Prioritize professionals with experience in serving sole proprietorships and small businesses, as well as specialization in your industry or specific tax areas of concern.
  4. Professional Affiliations: Consider professionals affiliated with reputable accounting firms, tax organizations, or professional associations, as these affiliations often indicate adherence to professional standards and ongoing education.
  5. Consultation and Fees: Schedule consultations with potential tax advisors to discuss your needs, assess their expertise, and understand their fee structures and billing practices.

By investing in professional tax assistance, sole traders can benefit from expert guidance, ensure compliance, and potentially identify tax-saving opportunities, ultimately contributing to the long-term success and growth of their businesses.


As a sole trader in Nigeria, understanding and complying with your tax obligations is crucial for the financial well-being and longevity of your business. Proper tax planning, record-keeping, and timely filing and payment of taxes can help you avoid costly penalties and maintain a positive relationship with tax authorities.

If you're considering starting a sole proprietorship, it's essential to educate yourself on the tax implications and seek professional assistance if needed. The Nigerian government provides various incentives and reliefs to support small businesses, but navigating the eligibility criteria and application processes can be complex without guidance.

Remember, tax compliance is not just a legal obligation but also an investment in the long-term success of your sole proprietorship. By staying informed, seeking professional help when needed, and adopting best practices, you can ensure your business operates within the bounds of the law and maximizes its profitability.

For more information and official resources on sole trader taxation in Nigeria, visit the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) website or consult with local tax authorities.

Subscribe To Read Full Post