Uche Usim, Abuja
Nigeria’s Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT), an administrative body established by the Federal Inland Revenue Service Establishment Act to resolve tax disputes arising from federal tax legislation, says, it has addressed 42 cases worth N288.1 billion and $5.41 billion.
The Coordinating Secretary of TAT, Mr Mohammed Lawal Abubakar, who made the disclosure in Abuja at the opening ceremony of a two-day retreat themed; “Towards Reforming The TAT For Effective And Efficient Tax Dispute Resolution In Nigeria”, explained that some of the resolved cases were at various stages of settlement; while others might probably go on appeal at the Federal High Court.
According to him, the tribunal formally commenced sittings on November 19, 2018 after the inauguration of the current Commissioners on November 5.
Summarising its activities from inauguration till date, Abubakar said the tribunal inherited 215 pending appeals with disputed tax value of N607.535 billion, $13.525 billion and Eur 1.48 million.
“New appeals filed between November 2018 – June 2019 stand at 62 with disputed tax value of N71.7 billion and $19.5 million.
“Appeals resolved mutually or through judgement were 42, with disputed tax value of N288.1 billion, $5.41 billion. However, it is pertinent to note that some of the resolved cases are at various stages of settlement or recovery while some might probably go on appeal at the Federal High Court.
“Appeals struck out for other reasons such as lack of diligent prosecution or discontinuance by parties, among others are sixty six (66) with disputed tax value of N22.03 billion and $1.06 billion.
He also stated that the “Total number of appeals pending at the various zones and at various stages of hearing and determination are one hundred and sixty five (165) with disputed tax value of N309.8 billion, $10.214 billion, Eur 1.407 million and GBP 0.011million. According to him, 31 out of the pending cases are either reserved for judgement or awaiting the filing of terms of settlement. We are hopeful that the 31 appeals would be concluded this month”, the TAT Coordinating Secretary explained. With regards to its key achievements, Abubakar said the TAT has engendered smooth commencement and sustained sittings across the zones.
He added that there has been improved public enlightenment and stakeholder engagement which has resulted in gradual embrace of the Tax Appeal Tribunal by the taxpayers.
“Ongoing expansion of the Lagos Zonal Office to accommodate the Commissioners and improve the work environment. The automation of the case management system through the installation of digital audio and video recording system in all the zones.
“Setting up of a Tax Advisory Committee to act as a back-end support for the Commissioners.
“We will keep working on improving the infrastructure to support speedy resolution of disputes brought before the Tribunal. We will also work closely with relevant stakeholders especially the Ministry of Finance, FIRS, State and FCT IRS in ensuring that we strengthen the legal framework of the TAT”, he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr Tunde Fowler, said the agency merely supports TAT but does not have any influence on it.
“The Federal Government values right of taxpayers and as such most of the brightest minds in tax matters are in tax appeal.
“There’s a gradual increase in tax collection. We’ll continue to provide tax services. We also abide by decision of TAT. We’ve not appealed any decisions. For others who appeal, we are not against them. FIRS doesn’t have all the knowledge. Taxpayers should bring forward their cases so they’re resolve”, he said.
Stakeholders who spoke at the event urged the tribunal to look into the protracted issue of multiplicity of taxes.