Permanent Establishment (PE) and Non-Resident Taxation in Lagos: What You Need to Know.

Concept of permanent establishment (PE) - Mercurius & Associates LLP | MAS  LLP Blogs


Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial center, attracts businesses and entrepreneurs from across the globe. However, understanding the concept of Permanent Establishment (PE) and its implications for non-resident taxation is crucial for foreign companies and individuals looking to do business in Lagos. In this article, we will provide an overview of PE and its significance in the realm of non-resident taxation in Lagos.

What is Permanent Establishment (PE)?

Permanent Establishment (PE) is a concept in international taxation that determines whether a foreign entity has a taxable presence in a country, such as Lagos. A PE typically arises when a foreign entity conducts business within a foreign jurisdiction through a fixed place of business, such as an office, branch, or factory. Additionally, it can also occur if certain individuals, such as employees or agents, habitually exercise authority to conclude contracts on behalf of the foreign entity within the foreign jurisdiction.

PE and Non-Resident Taxation in Lagos:

The presence or absence of a PE in Lagos can have significant implications for non-resident taxation. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Taxation of Business Profits: If a foreign entity has a PE in Lagos, the profits attributable to that PE are subject to taxation in Lagos. This means that the foreign entity is required to file tax returns with the Lagos Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) and pay taxes on the income earned through its PE.
  2. Withholding Tax on Payments: Payments made to non-resident companies or individuals for services rendered in Lagos may be subject to withholding tax. The absence of a PE can influence the withholding tax rate.
  3. Double Taxation Treaties: Nigeria has double taxation treaties with several countries to avoid double taxation on income. These treaties often provide guidance on when a PE is deemed to exist and can influence tax rates.
  4. Tax Planning: Non-resident entities should engage in careful tax planning to determine the existence of a PE and assess the potential tax implications. This may involve structuring business operations to minimize the risk of creating a PE.
  5. Local Legal Expertise: Collaborating with local legal and tax experts who understand Nigerian tax laws and regulations is essential for navigating the complexities of PE and non-resident taxation.

Challenges and Compliance Risks:

Dealing with PE and non-resident taxation in Lagos can pose challenges and compliance risks:

  1. Complexity: Determining the existence of a PE and complying with related tax regulations can be complex, requiring expert advice.
  2. Documentation Requirements: Proper record-keeping and documentation are crucial to demonstrate the presence or absence of a PE and for compliance with withholding tax obligations.
  3. Currency Exchange Risks: Fluctuations in exchange rates can impact the value of income and tax calculations.
  4. Regulatory Changes: Tax laws and regulations can change over time, affecting compliance requirements and tax liabilities.


Understanding Permanent Establishment (PE) and its implications for non-resident taxation is essential for foreign entities and individuals conducting business in Lagos. While it can be a complex area of taxation, careful tax planning, collaboration with local experts, and meticulous record-keeping can help non-residents navigate the nuances of PE and ensure compliance with Lagos’ tax laws.

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.