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Tax Tribunal receives N71.7billion-worth new appeals, resolves 42

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Coordinating Secretary, Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT), Muhammad Lawal Abubakar

The Coordinating Secretary, Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT), Muhammad Lawal Abubakar, has said that between November 2018 and June 2019, 62 new appeals with disputed tax value of about N71.7 billion were filed at the Tribunal by claimants.

This is just as he revealed that 42 appeals with disputed tax value of N288.1 billion were resolved mutually in the period under review, noting that some of the resolved cases are at various stages of settlement or recovery, while others might probably go on appeal at the Federal High Court.

He explained that 31 of the pending cases are either reserved for judgment or awaiting the filing of terms of settlement

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Abubakar made the disclosure yesterday in his welcome address at a retreat and workshop organised by the Tax Appeal Tribunal in Abuja,
 
He said: “The number of pending appeals on commencement in November 2018 were 215 with disputed tax value of N607.535 billion, appeals struck out for other reasons such as lack of diligent prosecution, or discontinuance by parties among others are 66 with disputed tax value of N22.03 billion. Total number of appeals pending at the various zones and at various stages of hearing and determination are 165 with disputed tax value of N309.8 billion respectively.”

He said the retreat, Themed, “Towards Reforming the TAT for effective and Efficient Tax Dispute Resolution in Nigeria,” is timely for the overall benefit of the nation, and aimed at reviewing the Tribunal’s performance from commencement of sitting in November 2018.

It is also meant to “identify our gains, gaps and challenges, and collectively set a common agenda and ways to strengthen our processes and procedures,” while also deepening the capacity of commissioners and staff on emerging trends in tax dispute.

Abubakar listed some of the achievements during the period in review to include smooth commencement and sustained sittings across the zones, improved public enlightenment and stakeholder engagement, which resulted in the gradual embrace of the Tax Appeal Tribunal by the taxpayers.

Also, are ongoing expansion of the Lagos Zonal Office, to accommodate the commissioners and improve the work environment; automation of the case management system through the installation of digital audio and video recording system in all the zones; and setting up of a Tax Advisory Committee to act as a back-end support for the commissioners.

In his paper titled, ‘’Review of Contentions issues in Previous Judgement of the Tribunal,-2010 – 2016, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kayode Sofola, noted that one of the major challenges in the resolution of disputes brought before the now-defunct adjudicatory bodies were their constitutionality, considering other provisions of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution.

According to him, since the creation of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, it has had to grapple with these same issues and more, as legal practitioners questioned the constitutionality of the Tribunal hearing in the cases.
He stated, “It is without doubt that the decisions of the TAT have helped to enrich the body of law on tax disputes as well as simplify the process for the resolution of tax disputes.”

He noted that as the first point of call for an aggrieved person to ventilate tax disputes, it is important that the Tribunal maintains discipline in its adjudicatory process, and ensure that conflicting decisions do not emanate from its various zone, to build the confidence reposed on it.


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