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TAX APPEAL TRIBUNAL NORTH WEST ZONE RESOLVES DISPUTES WORTH TEN BILLION NAIRA

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The Tax Appeal Tribunal sitting in Kaduna and with jurisdiction over the North West Zone, comprising the seven States of Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Jigawa, with Umar Mohammed Adamu as Chairman, Professor Kabir Isa Dandago, Professor Bayero Sabir Mohammed, Dr Ahmed Kumshe and Barrister Sameerah Abubakar Gwandu, has in the last eight months since the commencement of sitting resolved tax disputes amounting to over ten billion naira.

With the payment of N129,335,033.02K, made by Hadejia Jamaare River Basin Development Authority, to Kano State Internal Revenue Service, on the 17th of July, 2019, that brought the figure to over 10 billion naira, recovered via the various suits filed by either Taxpayers, or various revenue generation agencies, within the North West Zone.

On Wednesday the 17th of July 2019, the Tribunal was able to resolve the long-standing dispute between the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. The Tax dispute filed in 2014, seemed to have defiled all attempts to settle same, until hearing of the dispute commenced before the Panel. On the 17th of July, 2019, when the Panel was to commence the hearing of the defence of the Respondents (ABU), Francis Kozah the lead Counsel for the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service, informed the Tribunal that parties had reached an amicable settlement of the long standing dispute, with the payment received from ABU, of the sum of N4,709,751,647.33K(four billion, seven hundred and nine million, seven hundred and fifty one thousand, six hundred and forty seven naira and thirty three kobo), being the principal tax liability, less penalty and interest, that was waived in the interest of the settlement.

Whilst tendering the receipt of payment before the Panel, he commended the Panel not just for the acceleration of proceedings, but for also giving the Parties, robust opportunity and time to reach settlement. The matter was subsequently discontinued by the mutual consent of both Parties.

In like manner, the tax dispute between, Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service and Kaduna Polytechnic also enjoyed the same amicable settlement, as Counsel to the Appellant also tendered before the Tribunal a payment receipt of the sum of N2,623,560,656.40K(two billion, six hundred and twenty three million, five hundred and sixty thousand, six hundred and fifty six naira and forty kobo only) being final payment of the disputed taxes, less penalty and interest, waived in the interest of an amicable settlement. Lead Counsel to the Appellant Barrister Francis Kozah, thereafter, applied to withdraw the matter before the Tribunal and same was expeditiously granted.

The same Tribunal had earlier awarded Judgment in the sum of N63,819,504.39(sixty-three million, eight hundred and nineteen thousand, five hundred and four naira and thirty-nine kobo only) in favour of the Kano State Internal Revenue Service, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It is important to state that prior to the decision above, the Tribunal had delivered its Ruling resolving the tax dispute between the Suit No TAT/NWZ/KD/PAYE/008/16, which was between the Kano State Board of Internal Revenue (Appellant) and Bayero University Kano (1st Respondent), with the Honourable Minister of Education (2nd Respondent) and the Honourable Minister of Finance (3rd Respondent). The said Tax Appeal which was filed on the 20th of April, 2016, first came before the Tribunal, upon its reconstitution in November 2018 and it was with respect to the failure of the 1st respondent to pay PAYE (pay as you earn) and withholding taxes for the 2004-2009 years of assessment. The said disputed taxes were in the sum of N1,829,842,076.96 (one billion, eight hundred and twenty-nine million, eight hundred and forty-two thousand, seventy-six-naira, ninety-six kobo). The Tribunal in the space of 4(four) months, was able to amicably resolve the dispute between the contending parties, leading to the Respondents coming up with a payment plan, to offset the outstanding liability, to the satisfaction of all the parties. The said agreement to pay the outstanding liability and disputed taxes, was thus adopted as the Judgment of the Tribunal.

A similar trend obtained in TAT/NWZ/KD/PAYE/002/16, Which was the Kano State Internal Revenue Service Vs Independent National Electoral Commission (1st Respondent) and The Honourable Minister of Finance, which also had to do with the failure of the 1st Respondent to remit both PAYE (pay as you earn) and withholding taxes in the sum of N200,021,335.96 (two hundred million, twenty one thousand, three hundred and thirty five thousand and ninety six kobo only). The Tribunal was able to reconcile the disputed taxes, to a revised sum of N63,819,604.39k (sixty-three million, eight hundred and nineteen thousand, six hundred and four-naira, thirty-nine kobo only) a sum agreeable to both parties who now sought the Tribunal to adopt same and deliver as its judgment in the matter.

Of more importance was the matter of Suit No TAT/NWZ/KD/PAYE/001/18, a dispute filed on the 4th of December, 2019, between the Keystone Bank Vs Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service, which had to do with a demand notice issued by the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service, in the sum of N291,910,972.00(two hundred and ninety one million, nine hundred and ten thousand, nine hundred and seventy naira only) a sum disputed by the Appellant, who appealed to the Tax Appeal Tribunal of the North West Zone. In the space of three months, the Tribunal was able to the satisfaction of both parties reduced the disputed sum to N15,665,063.00 (fifteen million, six hundred and sixty-five thousand, sixty-three naira only). This with the consent of the parties was adopted as the Judgment of the Tribunal.

In another matter, which was Suit No TAT/NWZ/KD/PAYE/011/16, between Kano State Board of Internal Revenue (Appellant) Vs Federal College of Agric Produce, Kano (1st Respondent), The Honourable Minister of Education (2nd Respondent) and the Honourable Minister of Finance (3rd Respondent), which was filed on the 25th of April, 2016, before the former Panel of the North West Zone and same was with respect to PAYE (pay as you earn) and withholding taxes for the years 2009-2013, in the sum of N6,870,862.91(six million, eight hundred and seventy thousand, eight hundred and sixty two naira, ninety one kobo only). Within a space of six months, the Tribunal was able to get parties to agree on a revised figure of N3,613,736.38k (three million, six hundred and thirteen thousand, seven hundred and thirty-six-naira, thirty-eight kobo). Upon the agreement of both parties for the revised sum, the Appellant brought an application to discontinue the proceedings, as such the Tribunal granted the application on the 29th of April 2019. 

In his remarks the Chairman of the North West Zone of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, Umar Mohammed Adamu, enjoined, all taxpayers and critical stakeholders within the Zone, to embrace the speedy resolution of tax disputes promoted by the Tax Appeal Tribunal, as can be seen from the matters listed above, where matters were commenced and resolved in less than 60 days. In less than three days in some cases, if the actual dates within which the matters came before the Tribunal were to be computed.

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