Many people have asked this question, what is vat in simple language? Well this post will give you an in-depth knowledge of the concept of Value Added Tax (VAT), what is VAT rate, and an example of value added tax calculation. Read on and get all the information you need.

What is Value Added Tax (VAT) in Simple Language?

VAT is a type o consumption tax levied on products at every point of sale where value has been added to the product. It commences from one when the product is in the raw material stage to the point of sale where it is been purchased by the final consumer.

Value Added Tax Explained: What is VAT and How To Calculate It

Consumption tax on the other hand, is simply defined as tax levied on the purchase of goods, and services. All manufacturer in the production chain do charge VAT to the buyer, which is then remitted to the government. The amount of value added tax levied at the point of sale along the production chain is based on the value added by the seller. This is provided for by the Value Added Tax Decree 102 of 1993 which actually became effective in 1994.

Also read: Trader Moni: All You Need To Know and States It Has Been Launched

What is VAT Rate?

Value Added Tax is charged 5% on all VATable goods and services.

The VAT decree requires manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and suppliers of VATable goods and services to be registered within six months of commencement of business. VAT is administered by the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) through its VAT directorate with offices in almost all the local government areas in the country.

Who Are Those That Should Pay Value Added tax?

A VATable person is one that deals in VATable goods and services. Examples of such include:

  • A limited liability company e.g. Bawas Limited
  • A firm e.g. Law & Co.
  • A sole trader e.g. Chike & Sons
  • An individual e.g. Emeka shops
  • A Club or society e.g. Royal Social Club

When you are a registered VAT payer, 5% of the money your customer pays for goods and services is calculated as your Output VAT. On the other hand, when you purchase any goods and services, 5% of the money you pay is calculated as Input VAT.

To calculate the exact amount that goes to the government, you have to subtract your Input VAT from the Output VAT.

That is: Total Payable VAT to the government = Output VAT – Input VAT.

Value Added Tax Calculation With Examples.

Example 1

In 2005, a phone manufacturer sold a smartphone to a final consumer for N250,000. The raw materials for this phone was bought at N100,000. Find the:

  1. Output VAT
  2. Input VAT
  3. Total VAT payable to the government


Output VAT = The 5%VAT you charge on goods and services you supply or sell.

Input VAT = The 5% VAT you pay on goods and services that you use.

Since the manufacturer of the phone sold the phone for N250,000, the 5% of the 250,000 Naira is the output VAT. (This is constant because we assume that 5% VAT is always added on every goods and services sold).

Output VAT = 5% of 250,000 Naira

Output VAT = 12,500 Naira.

Since the manufacturer spent 100,000 Naira to buy the raw materials for the phone production, 5% of that amount is called the input VAT.

Input VAT = 5% of 100,000 Naira

Input VAT = 5000 Naira.

The total VAT payable = Output VAT – Input VAT

Total VAT payable = 12,500 – 5000

Total VAT payable = 7500 Naira.

Example 2

In April 2016, Mr Emeka bought goods for N200,000 and sold same for N400,000. Calculate the total VAT he should pay for the month of April.


Output VAT = 5% of his sales

Output VAT = 5% of 400,000 Naira

Output VAT = 20,000 Naira.

Input VAT = 5% of inventory purchase

Input VAT = 5% of 200,000 Naira

Input VAT = 10,000 Naira.

Therefore total VAT payable for the month of April is;

Output VAT – Input VAT

Total VAT Payable = 20,000 – 10,000

Total VAT Payable = 10,000 Naira

This amount is payable where the output tax exceeds the input tax. In a situation where the input tax exceeds the output tax, the deficit can be claimed by refund.

There are three ways to claim your refund, and they are as follows:

  1. The credit method
  2. Direct cash refund method and
  3. A combination of the two.

The application of the credit method is the most widely used because of the difficulty that may be encountered with cash refunds.

Goods Exempted From Value Added Tax (VAT)

Certain goods and services are not VATable. The actually means that VAT charges are not applicable to it. On the other hand, certain goods and services are considered zero rates. This implies that the goods are VATable, but the application is zero percent.

Example of Goods Exempted From VAT

  • Medical and pharmaceutical products
  • Basic food items
  • Books and educational materials
  • Baby products
  • Commercial vehicles and their spare parts
  • Agricultural equipment and products and veterinary medicine
  • Fertilizers, farming machinery and farming transportation equipment
  • All exports
  • Plants and machinery used in export processing zone
  • Plant, machinery and equipment purchased for utilization of gas in downstream petroleum operations
  • Tractors, ploughs, agricultural equipment and implements purchased for agricultural purposes

Example of Services Exempted From VAT

  • Services of Community Banks, Peoples Banks and primary Mortgage Institutions.
  • Plays and performances conducted by educational institutions as part of learning
  • Services related to education
  • Medical services
  • All exported services

Form Used By Tax Payers

The following forms are in use by the tax payers:

  • Form VAT 001
  • Form VAT 002

Form VAT 001 – VAT Registration Form

The VAT001 is the standard registration form for VAT. It is supposed to be completed by a potential VAT payer within six months of the commencement of business.

VAT Form 001 usually contains the following information:

  • The name of the taxpayer
  • The principal place of business of the taxpayer
  • Other branches or units where business is carried on
  • The date of incorporation of business
  • The date of commencement of business
  • The registration number of the business
  • The nature of business
  • Types of goods/services dealt in
  • The local VAT office where registration is sought
  • The name and designation of a principal officer of the business
  • The date application is filled.

The application must also bear the official stamp of the business, a formal written application for registration on the business letter-headed paper as well as the signature of the principal officer. A copy of the registration certificate must be attached but the original would be presented for sighting.

Form VAT 002 – Value Added Tax Returns

This is the standard value added Tax returns to be filled every month. A typical form 002 contains the following information.

  • VAT identification number
  • Name and address of the VAT payer
  • The local VAT office where the return is being filled
  • The month for which return is related
  • Total VATable supplied made
  • The zero-rated supplied included in the VATable supplies
  • The total supplied subjected to VAT
  • VAT charged
  • Any adjustments
  • Total tax output
  • VAT on domesticated supplies received
  • VAT adjustments on supplies received
  • VAT on import
  • Total VAT payable
  • VAT on purchases not wholly used to be backed out of total VAT payable
  • VAT taken at source, also to be backed out of VAT payable
  • Total input tax
  • Amount payable or refundable
  • A declaration by an official of the taxpayer that the particulars in the returns are true and correct.

NOTE:  Value Added Tax Returns must be filed with the FIRS on or before the 21st day of the month following the month of transaction. Failure to comply will attract the following penalties:

  1. For businesses not registered for VAT: A penalty of N10,000 for the first month in which the failure occurs and N5,000 for each subsequent month. An unregistered business that fails to remit VAT after a period of time will be sealed up by the FIRS.
  2. For businesses registered for VAT: A penalty of a sum equal to 5% per annum plus interest at a commercial rate payable within 30 days of notification by the Tax Authority.


I guess this post about the concept of value added tax is self-explanatory enough, and hence useful to you. You might have learn one or two things related to VAT especially if you are living in Nigeria . Feel free to share this post with your friends on various social media. You can as well subscribe to this blog and we will serve you more useful information about Nigeria.