How To Navigate Through Taxes as a Nigerian Business

As a small business owner, managing your finances isn’t just about getting numbers; it’s about finding smart ways to make your money work harder for you.

As a Nigerian Business owner, you know it’s not just about making money; it’s about keeping more of it in your pocket. Tax efficiency is your secret weapon. It’s about finding that sweet spot where you can earn well and still keep the taxman at bay. And that’s precisely what we’re here to uncover.

We’re about to explore strategies that put more money back where it belongs – in your business and your wallet.

Tax Strategy for Dividends as a Business

Dividends are a favored route for business owners due to their tax efficiency. The tax strategy here is straightforward. When your company earns profits, you can distribute a portion of those profits to yourself and other shareholders as dividends. The good news? Dividends are typically taxed at a lower rate compared to regular income.

However, it’s essential to stay informed about the prevailing tax laws regarding dividends in your jurisdiction. These laws can change, impacting the tax rate on dividends. Keeping abreast of these changes is crucial for making informed decisions.

The Quest for the Most Tax-Efficient Salary

Now, let’s address the million-dollar question: What is the most tax-efficient salary? The answer lies in finding the “Goldilocks” salary – not too high, not too low. Here are the key factors to consider:

Industry benchmarks as a starting point

Start by researching industry benchmarks for salaries in your sector. While this shouldn’t be the sole determinant, it provides a useful reference point.

Aligning roles and responsibilities

Consider the roles and responsibilities within your company. Your salary should reflect the value you bring to the business. Paying yourself excessively can trigger higher taxes and potentially raise eyebrows with tax authorities.

Tax Treatment of Dividends Paid by a Company

When it comes to dividends, they’re typically taxed in the hands of the recipient, which is you as a shareholder. This means your personal tax situation will influence how much tax you pay on dividends. The good news is that dividend income often enjoys preferential tax rates compared to regular income, thanks to dividend tax credits.

Do Dividends Reduce Company Profits?

To address a common misconception: No, dividends don’t directly reduce a company’s profits. They are paid from profits remaining after covering expenses, taxes, and other financial obligations. It’s essential to strike a balance between retaining earnings for business growth and distributing profits as dividends.

How to avoid dividend tax

While you can’t entirely avoid taxes on dividends, there are strategies to minimize the impact:

  1. Tax-Efficient Accounts: Consider investing in tax-advantaged accounts like ISAs or SIPPs (in the UK) to shelter your investments from taxes.
  2. Use Tax-Efficient Investments: Some investments, like certain stocks or bonds, may be more tax-efficient than others. Research these options.
  3. Take Advantage of Tax Credits: In many countries, dividend tax credits can reduce the tax liability on dividends.

How Much Dividend Is Tax-Free in Nigeria?

The tax treatment of dividends in Nigeria is subject to specific regulations. Dividends, interest, rents, and royalties earned abroad and brought into Nigeria through government-approved channels are generally exempt from Nigerian tax. However, it’s important to note that income not meeting these criteria is taxable.

The tax rate applicable to taxable income in Nigeria depends on the classification of the company, which can be categorized as small, medium, or large. Additionally, there is a tertiary education tax of 3% that may apply to certain income.

Blending Salary and Dividends

Now, let’s dive into the art of balancing salary and dividends for maximum tax efficiency.

Striking the perfect balance

The ideal strategy often involves a blend of salary and dividends. By taking a reasonable salary to cover your living expenses and using dividends to extract additional profits, you can potentially reduce your overall tax liability. However, striking this balance isn’t an exact science and should be tailored to your unique circumstances.

Pro tips for a hybrid approach

  • Regularly review your salary and dividend strategy to adapt to changing business conditions and tax laws.
  • Consider reinvesting some profits back into your business to fuel growth.
  • Leverage the guidance of tax professionals to ensure your approach aligns with current regulations.

Beyond the Basics: Advanced Tax-Efficient Strategies

Beyond the fundamental strategies, there are more advanced methods to optimize your tax efficiency as a business owner.

Tapping into tax credits and deductions

Explore available tax credits and deductions that apply to your business. These can significantly reduce your overall tax liability. For instance, research credits for research and development (R&D) activities or energy-efficient investments.

Tax-efficient vehicles

Invest wisely by choosing tax-efficient investment vehicles. Some investments offer preferential tax treatment, such as long-term capital gains rates on certain assets. Diversify your investments while keeping tax efficiency in mind.

Meticulous record-keeping

Keeping accurate records of your financial transactions is crucial for claiming deductions, and credits, and complying with tax regulations. Invest in accounting software or consult an accountant to streamline this process.

Staying in the Clear: Compliance Matters

No discussion of tax efficiency would be complete without emphasizing the importance of compliance in business.

Ensure you keep records

Detailed records not only help with tax deductions but also ensure you can substantiate your financial activities if questioned by tax authorities. Consider using accounting software to simplify this task.

Meet tax filing deadlines

Ensure you meet all tax filing deadlines and provide accurate information when filing. Penalties for late or incorrect filings can eat into your hard-earned profits.

Seek professional advice

Lastly, don’t hesitate to seek professional tax advice. Tax laws are complex and ever-changing, making it vital to have an expert guide you through the intricacies of tax-efficient strategies. The investment in professional advice can yield substantial savings in the long run.


In the Business world, tax efficiency isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a crucial element of financial success. By carefully considering your salary, dividends, and advanced tax strategies, you can optimize your income while keeping your tax bill in check.

Remember, the tax landscape evolves, so stay informed, adapt your strategy as needed, and, most importantly, consult a tax professional to navigate the complexities of tax-efficient business finances. Your bottom line will thank you for it.

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