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BANKING & FINANCENEWS

Tribunal Directs Hearing Of Multichoice’s Appeal On N1.8tn Tax Bill

MultiChoice

The Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) in Lagos on Wednesday ruled that MultiChoice Nigeria has fulfilled the conditions required for the hearing of its appeal against the N1.8 trillion tax bill slammed on it by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The tribunal has also fixed November 17 for the hearing of the appeal.

At the last hearing on September 23, 2021, Multichoice, owner of DStv and GOtv, says it has complied with the directives of the tax appeal tribunal (TAT) and has deposited N8 billion with the FIRS.

The counsel to the company said the N8 billion was paid in two tranches as instructed by the tribunal on the provision of FIRS Act.

However, the FIRS had argued that in the absence of a proof of deposit, the tribunal should discontinue hearing of the appeal and enter judgment against MultiChoice.

MultiChoice had filed an appeal before TAT over perceived wrongful assessment spanning a 10-year period.

The tribunal Chairman, Prof A.B. Ahmed, according to a statement on Wednesday, had on August 24th, directed MultiChoice to make a statutory deposit of 50 percent of the alleged tax liability before the continuation of the appeal.

Delivering ruling on the objection raised by FIRS the tribunal held, “It is obvious that the appellant has not only complied with the orders of this court but has also provided sufficient evidence before this tribunal that they are credible and ready to pursue this matter with all sense of responsibility and seriousness.

“It is only fair and just that they be given the privilege to do so. The appellant has complied with the orders of this tribunal given on August 24, 2021 and is therefore entitled to be heard on merit. It is hereby directed that this matter proceeds to hearing.”

READ ALSO: We Paid N8bn To FIRS – Multichoice Tells Tribunal

Ruling on other issues raised by the FIRS, the Tribunal held, “We have carefully examined the submission of both counsels and we are of the understanding that this tribunal has been called upon to give a ruling on the proper legal interpretation of the relevant sections of provisions of paragraph 15 of FIRS Establishment Act 2017 based on which the orders of this Tribunal of August 24, 2021 was made.

“It is our understanding that one of the major functions of this tribunal is to interpret and outline tax laws in specific cases that will come before it. In doing this duty, we will be guided by Superior Courts of Record.

“In a plethora of cases, the courts have often held that in the interpretation of provisions of the law, the court must give meaning to the exact word used by the makers of the law without adding or subtraction. The tribunal is to declare what the law is and not what it ought to be.

“This tribunal is unable to agree with the argument presented by the respondent’s counsel because the said portion of the paragraph in the FIRS talks about the ‘preceding year’ and not ‘preceding years.’

“The paragraph under the portion of the FIRS in reference also talks about assessment and not assessments. This tribunal cannot reduce anything from the paragraph as intended by the makers of the law. The paragraph under consideration also talks about ‘assessment’ and not ‘assessments’ therefore this tribunal will not add or reduce anything from the said paragraph,” the TAT ruled.

About Author

Ife Ogunfuwa is an award-winning reporter who is versed in reporting business and economy, technology, gadgets reviews, telecoms, tax, and business policy review, among others. She loves telling stories behind the numbers. She has professional certifications in business and financial reporting. You can reach her via – [email protected]

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