By Lukman Olabiyi
The five-man panel of the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT), Lagos yesterday held that Mulitchoice Nigeria has met the conditions necessary to pursue its appeal against the N1.8trillion tax levied on it by the Federal Inland Revenue Service ( FIRS). The panel gave the verdict in its ruling on the preminary objection by filed by FIRS against the petition of MultiChoice before it.
MultiChoice had dragged FIRS before the Tribunal over an alleged wrongful assessment of N1.8trillion tax covering a 10 years period. In line with the Tax law, the Tribunal Chairman, Prof A.B. Ahmed on August 24, 2021, ordered MultiChoice to deposit 50 percent of the alleged tax liability before the continuation of the appeal. When the matter came up last month, FIRS kicked against the hearing of the appeal on the ground that Multichoice had not complied with the earlier order of the Tribunal
The FIRS argued that Paragraph 15(7) of the Fifth Schedule to the FIRS (Establishment) Act 2007 compels a taxpayer disputing its assessment to make a statutory payment of 50 percent of the disputed sum before the tribunal could prosecute an appeal brought before it. The agency stated that in the absence of a proof of deposit, it should discontinue the hearing of the appeal and enter judgment against MultiChoice.
However, MultiChoice stated that it has complied, as the referenced section of the FIRS Act does not compel it to pay N900 billion but an amount equal to its tax in the preceding year of assessment or one half of the disputed tax assessment under appeal, whichever is the lesser amount plus 10 per cent.