Navigating VAT Compliance in the Fashion and Apparel Industry: A Guide for Nigerian SMEs.

Difference between the fashion and clothing industry


The fashion and apparel industry in Nigeria has seen tremendous growth in recent years, with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) playing a significant role in this expansion. However, as the industry flourishes, so do the challenges, especially when it comes to Value Added Tax (VAT) compliance. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of VAT compliance in the fashion and apparel sector, providing SMEs with valuable insights to ensure they meet their obligations while maintaining a competitive edge.

Understanding VAT in Nigeria:

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax levied on the value added to goods and services at each stage of production or distribution. In Nigeria, the VAT rate is currently 7.5%, and businesses are required to register for VAT once their annual turnover exceeds ₦25 million. SMEs in the fashion and apparel industry often overlook VAT compliance due to a lack of awareness or misconceptions about their obligations. It’s essential for SMEs to understand that failing to comply with VAT regulations can result in penalties and hinder business growth.

VAT Compliance for Fashion SMEs:

  • Registration: SMEs operating in the fashion and apparel industry should register for VAT as soon as they meet the ₦25 million annual turnover threshold. Registration can be done online through the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) portal. Once registered, businesses are issued a VAT registration number, which must be prominently displayed on all invoices and receipts.
  • Record-keeping: Accurate record-keeping is crucial for VAT compliance. SMEs should maintain detailed records of all their sales, purchases, and expenses related to their business activities. Proper record-keeping simplifies the process of filing VAT returns and allows for easy verification during tax audits.
  • VAT Invoicing: VAT-registered SMEs are required to issue VAT invoices to their customers for all taxable transactions. These invoices should contain specific details, including the VAT registration number, customer’s details, a description of the goods or services, the amount charged, and the applicable VAT rate. Invoices must be issued within 30 days of the transaction.
  • VAT Returns: SMEs must file VAT returns with the FIRS on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on their turnover. These returns should accurately reflect the VAT collected from customers and the VAT paid on purchases and expenses. Timely and accurate VAT returns are essential to avoid penalties and interest on outstanding VAT liabilities.
  • Input VAT: Fashion and apparel SMEs can claim Input VAT on eligible business expenses, such as raw materials, packaging, and equipment. Proper documentation is necessary to support these claims, and SMEs should be vigilant in ensuring they only claim Input VAT on allowable expenses.
  • Compliance with Changes: VAT regulations may change over time. SMEs should stay updated on any changes in VAT rates, exemptions, or rules that may affect their business operations. Seeking professional advice or attending VAT training sessions can help SMEs remain compliant.


VAT compliance is a crucial aspect of operating a successful SME in the fashion and apparel industry in Nigeria. Neglecting VAT obligations can result in financial penalties and damage to a business’s reputation. Therefore, SMEs should prioritize understanding VAT regulations, registering when necessary, maintaining accurate records, and filing VAT returns on time.

For professional advice on Accountancy, Transfer Pricing, Tax, Assurance, Outsourcing, online accounting support, Company Registration, and CAC matters, please contact Sunmola David & CO (Chartered Accountants & Tax Practitioners) at Lagos, Ogun state Nigeria offices, . You can also reach us via WhatsApp at +2348038460036.