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0.5% cybersecurity levy: Will your next tithe, offering be taxed?



0.5% cybersecurity levy: Will your next tithe, offering be taxed?

As Nigerians continue to grapple with the new reality of 0.5% cybersecurity levy imposed by the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on every electronic transfer, worries have risen about what is exempted or not in the new policy.


According to circular by the CBN, banks, mobile money operators and payment service operators were mandated to charge for every electronic transfer, a cybersecurity levy of 0.5%.


Since the circular made its way to social media, reactions and different interpretations have followed the policy and some exemptions in the new levy.


One of the gray areas was whether the charge was 0.5% or 0.005%. President Bola Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, had in a tweet on his X (formerly Twitter) handle amplified that the charge for the cybersecurity levy is 0.005% and not 0.5%.


Bayo Onanuga, who at different times had been caught on the web of spreading false information, made the tweet as a clarification and to douse the tension among citizens who have taken to social media to express their displeasure with the administration’s new levy for electronic transactions.


A check by this medium showed that contrary to Onanuga’s claim, the Cyber Security (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Amendment Act 2024 (An Amendment of the 2015 Act) prescribed a levy of 0.5% of all electronic transactions value. As of the time of filing this report, Bayo again had deleted the post.


READ ALSO: 0.5% cybersecurity levy: Nigerians cry for help


Another gray area is whether tithes and offerings paid to churches by members of congregation will be charged. In the list of exempted transactions, the CBN circular did not mention the fate of Christians who would be giving their offerings and tithes via electronic payments. This has also raised questions on which route for Christians to follow in paying their faith-based dues.


In the circular, CBN stated that transactions made to Non-Governmental Organizations will not be charged the Cybersecurity levy. Most Nigerian Christians, especially in the city, give their offerings and tithes through electronic transactions. This is partly caused by the hardship of getting cash at Automated Teller Machine (ATM) points. Will the new cybersecurity levy for all electronic payments apply if tithes and offerings are paid through electronic means? Yinka Chukwuemeka Ogunnubi, a public affairs analyst, disclosed that churches are covered under the exemption clause of NGO. Yinka said transactions made to churches as tithes and offerings through electronic payments will not be charged.


Giving further clarification, Yinka said, “Donations to NGOs are exempted. That means your tithes and offerings will not be charged.”


The CBN circular also gave exemptions on the following transactions: Salary Payments, intra-account transfers within the same bank for the same customers, inter-account transfers between different banks for the same customers, intra-bank transfers between customers of the same banks, cheque payments, pension payments, educational institution transactions.