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Tax dispute: Tribunal rules in favour of MultiChoice

The Lagos zone of the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) has 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). MultiChoice had filed an appeal before TAT over perceived wrongful assessment spanning a 10-year period.

The Tribunal Chairman, Prof A.B. Ahmed had, on August 24, directed MultiChoice to make a statutory deposit of 50 per cent of the alleged tax liability before the continuation of the appeal. At the hearing of the matter last month, the FIRS objected to the continuation of the appeal on the ground that MultiChoice had failed to comply with the earlier directive 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 per cent of the disputed sum before the tribunal could prosecute an appeal brought before it. The revenue agency argued that in the absence of a proof of deposit, the tribunal should discontinue hearing of the appeal and enter judgement against MultiChoice. MultiChoice, however, 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 percent.




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