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FG asks Tax appeal tribunal to quickly resolve related issues

FG ask Tax appeal tribunal to quickly resolve related issues

The federal government on Tuesday tasked the tax appeal tribunal to expedite efforts in resolving tax cases as the total number of pending cases hit 165 amounting to a disputed tax value of N309.8 billion, $10.214.

 Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, permanent secretary, ministry of finance, speaking at Tax appeal tribunal retreat titled “Towards Reforming the TAT for Effective and Efficient Tax Dispute Resolution in Nigeria” held in  Abuja on Tuesday said that despite the remarkable performance recorded across the various zonal Tribunals in the country, there was need for an increased effort to ensure tax cases are resolved expeditiously.

“Notwithstanding the achievement by the Tribunals, within the last seven months, it is still very necessary that the Tax Appeal Commissioners put in more effort to ensure that the quantum of pending cases with disputed tax value amounting to about N309.8 billion, USD 10.214 billion, and EUR 1.407 million, are expeditiously resolved. Considering the emphasis of government in improving its revenue through tax revenue earnings,” he said.

Speaking further he said that the quick resolution of these pending cases would significantly enhance government revenue base; boost the confidence of prospective investors in the capacity of our legal infrastructure to coherently address legitimate grievances; and bolster Foreign Direct Investment into our economy.

“With the TAT being an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism should provide taxpayers and tax authorities a platform for speedy and cost-effective resolution of tax disputes. Therefore, I expect the Commissioners to quicken the processes and procedures in the adjudication of tax cases brought before them”.

He stressed that undue delays in resolving tax appeals deprives government of needed resources in the face of dwindling revenues and the overwhelming need for increased funding of the huge infrastructure gap, in addition to other critical government expenditures adding that it is important to align the quick disposal of tax appeals to Government’s Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI).

Muhammad Abubakar, Coordinating Secretary, Tax Appeal Tribunal, in his remark said that the retreat is aimed at reviewing the performance of tribunal, identify the gains and set common agenda to strengthen the processes and procedures.

“The main objective of the retreat is to review TAT’s performance from commencement of sitting in November 2018, identify our gains, gaps and challenges, and collectively set a common agenda and ways to strengthen our processes and procedures. This Retreat will also help in deepening the capacity of Commissioners and staff on emerging trends in tax dispute,” Abubakar said.

He further explained that the tribunal had promoted various initiatives and strategies expected to drive the operational performance, reposition the Tribunal and improve the timeline for resolution of tax disputes which will consequently engender taxpayer confidence and voluntary compliance.

“A review of our activities from inauguration and commencement indicates that we are making some progress. A summary of the status of cases from November 2018 to June 2019 is as follows: the number of pending appeals on commencement in November 2018 were two hundred and fifteen (215) with disputed tax value of NGN 607.535 billion, USD 13.525 billion, and EUR 1.48 million”.

“New Appeals filed between November 2018 – June 2019 stands at sixty-two (62) with disputed tax value of NGN 71.7 billion and USD 19.5 million and appeals resolved mutually or through judgement are forty-two (42) with disputed tax value of  NGN 288.1 billion, USD 5.41 billion”.

Abubakar speaking further noted that some of the resolved cases were at various stages of settlement or recovery while some might probably go on appeal at the Federal High Court, adding that appeals struck out for other reasons such as lack of diligent prosecution or discontinuance by parties, are sixty six (66) with disputed tax value of N 22.03 billion, USD 1.06 billion.

“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 N 309.8 billion, USD 10.214 billion, EUR 1.407 million and GBP 0.011million. Thirty one (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”.