Renowned services firm, PwC has faulted the recent ruling of the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) ordering MultiChoice Nigeria to deposit N900billion, half of the N1.8trillion the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it owes in taxes, before the continuation of an appeal filed by the pay television service providers.
In a review of the ruling contained in its PwC Tax Alert posted on its website on Wednesday, the firm, argued that TAT did not refer to any of the three conditions necessary for the issuance of an order to compel the payment of N900 billion, but focused on the order for statutory deposit.
While noting that the tribunal cited many cases and held that the payment of the statutory deposit is a condition required to trigger the appeal, PwC said the tribunal proceeded to order MultiChoice to comply with the provision by making the deposit before the next hearing.
The firm stated that Paragraph 15 (7) of the Fifth Schedule of the FIRS Act, on which the tribunal hung its ruling, is separable into two parts, with the first stating conditions for the order and the other the order to be made.
The section states, “At the hearing of any appeal if the representative of the Service proves to the satisfaction of the Tribunal hearing the appeal in the first instance that (a) the appellant has for the year of assessment concerned, failed to prepare and deliver to the Service returns required to be furnished under the relevant provisions of the tax laws mentioned in paragraph 11; (b) the appeal is frivolous or vexatious or is an abuse of the appeal process (c) it is expedient to require the appellant to pay an amount as security for prosecuting the appeal, the Tribunal may adjourn the hearing of the appeal to any subsequent day and order the appellant to deposit with the Service, before the day of the adjourned hearing, an amount, on account of the tax charged by the assessment under appeal, equal to the tax charged upon the appellant for the preceding year of assessment or one half of the tax charged by the assessment under appeal, whichever is the lesser plus a sum equal to ten percent of the said deposit, and if the appellant fails to comply with the order, the assessment against which he has appealed shall be confirmed and the appellant shall have no further right of appeal with respect to that assessment.”
PwC said the words of the paragraph are conditional, as they put the onus of proof on the FIRS.