VAT Refunds: Procedures and Requirements for Nigerian SMEs.


Value Added Tax (VAT) is an essential component of Nigeria’s tax system, and businesses are required to charge, collect, and remit VAT on taxable supplies. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), VAT can represent a significant portion of their operating costs. However, in certain situations, SMEs may be eligible for VAT refunds, providing much-needed relief to their cash flow. As a reputable accounting firm in Nigeria, we aim to guide Nigerian SMEs on the procedures and requirements for VAT refunds.

Understanding VAT Refunds:

VAT refunds allow eligible businesses to reclaim the excess VAT they paid on business-related expenses. These expenses include purchases of goods, services, and capital assets that are subject to VAT. VAT refunds are particularly beneficial for SMEs as they help enhance liquidity, reduce financial strain, and support business growth.

VAT Refund Eligibility:

To be eligible for VAT refunds, Nigerian SMEs must meet certain criteria. Key factors include:

  • Zero-Rated Supplies: SMEs that engage in the supply of zero-rated goods or services are eligible for VAT refunds on input VAT, as these supplies are taxed at a 0% VAT rate.
  • Exports: Businesses involved in exporting goods or certain services outside Nigeria may also qualify for VAT refunds. Exported goods are typically zero-rated, and input VAT on related expenses can be recovered.
  • Unutilized Input VAT: SMEs with unutilized input VAT credits (input VAT exceeds output VAT) are entitled to VAT refunds. These credits can arise from zero-rated supplies, exports, or input VAT on business expenses.
  • VAT Compliance: Eligibility for VAT refunds is subject to compliance with VAT regulations. SMEs must ensure timely filing of VAT returns and adherence to other VAT compliance requirements.

Proper Record-Keeping:

Maintaining accurate records is a fundamental requirement for VAT refunds. Nigerian SMEs must keep comprehensive records of VAT-related transactions, including invoices, receipts, and other relevant documentation. Proper record-keeping is vital to substantiate VAT refund claims during tax audits.

VAT Refund Application:

SMEs seeking VAT refunds must submit formal applications to the Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). The application process typically involves providing details of input VAT credits, VAT returns, and supporting documents.

Time Limit for VAT Refund Claims:

Nigerian SMEs should be aware of the time limit for VAT refund claims. VAT refund applications must be submitted within six months from the end of the VAT period in which the excess input VAT arose. Timely filing is crucial to avoid missing the opportunity for VAT refunds.

Collaboration with Tax Professionals:

Navigating the VAT refund process can be complex, especially for SMEs with limited resources. Collaborating with tax professionals or accounting experts can streamline the VAT refund application, ensuring compliance with requirements and maximizing the chances of a successful refund claim.

Refund Verification and Approval:

Upon submission of the VAT refund application, the FIRS will conduct a verification process to assess the legitimacy of the claim. Once approved, the refund amount will be credited to the SME’s designated bank account.


VAT refunds present a valuable opportunity for Nigerian SMEs to improve cash flow, reduce financial strain, and support business growth. By understanding the procedures and requirements for VAT refunds, maintaining proper records, collaborating with tax professionals, and ensuring VAT compliance, SMEs can optimize their chances of successfully reclaiming excess input VAT.

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.