The Finance Minister, Dr. Mansur Muhtar has inaugurated eight tax administrative tribunals to handle tax dispute in the country. The tribunals are to be situated in the six geopolitical zones of the federation and one each in former capital of Nigeria Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja. Each of the tribunals has a chairman and four commissioners.
The Minister pointed out that the inauguration signifies government’s efforts at further transforming and streamlining revenue collection from taxes with the ultimate aim of reducing the country’s reliance on oil revenues. He said that that “This government is committed to making Nigeria a preferred destination for both local and foreign investors by making the economy more investment friendly. You will agree with me that today’s event is a step in the right direction towards the attainment of that objective. The responsibility being entrusted to you is indeed enormous, but I have no doubt in my mind that given your qualifications and experiences in both the public and private sectors of the economy you will discharge this responsibility creditably.”
Dr. Muhtar said that as with all human endeavours, the administration of taxes is bound to throw-up disagreements and disputes. The law authorizes the FIRS to sue and recover taxes charged against taxable persons, but which remain unpaid at the expiration of a notice issued to demand for such payments. Where a taxpayer receives a notice of assessment, he either agrees with the assessment and makes necessary payment or he objects to it.
He said “the tax authority will be obliged to amend such assessment or go on to issue a notice of refusal to amend. The ground for appeal has therefore, been established. In the same vein, where the FIRS is aggrieved by the noncompliance of a person, or body corporate in respect of the tax laws, the ground for appeal will also be established. Tax appeal is therefore an important component of any tax administration system and this underscores the crucial role of the Tax Appeal Tribunals that we are about to inaugurate”
“Section 59 of FIRS (Establishment) Act 2007, provides for the establishment of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, replacing the body of Appeal Commissioners and the Value Added Tax Tribunals, with powers to settle disputes arising from the operations of the Act and others spelt out in the Fifth Schedule to the Act. Section 18 (2) Companies Income Tax (Amendment) Act, 2007 states that appeals shall be as provided for in the FIRS Act, and section 68 of the Act states that the provisions of the Federal tax laws shall be read with such modifications as to bring them into conformity with FIRS Act.
“The Tax Appeal Tribunals shall be established in eight different locations in Bauchi, Kaduna, Jos, Ibadan, Enugu, Benin, Lagos and Abuja. The Tribunal shall sit at least once every quarter, being the minimum standard, and each sitting may last for a number of days depending on the magnitude of appeals before the Tribunal. The sittings of the Tribunal shall be held in public, and interested members of the public can attend any hearing.
“The Tribunals are empowered to settle disputes arising from the operations of the Act and others spelt out in the fifth schedule to the FIRS Establishment Act. Specifically, and in accordance with Section 59 (2) of the FIRS Act, they have jurisdiction over disputes arising from the Companies Income Tax Act; Petroleum Profit Tax Act, Personal Income Tax Act, Capital Gains Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act; Stamp Duties Act; Taxes and Levies (Approved list for collection) Act; as well as other laws, regulations, proclamations, government notices or rules related to these Acts”.