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You Must Remit Half Of N1.8 Trillion Evaded Tax To FIRS, Tribunal Orders DSTV

The Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) sitting in Lagos has ordered Multichoice Nigeria Limited, owners of popular cable television services, DSTV, to pay 50 per cent of N1.8 trillion to  the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the amount in taxes that Multichoice Nigeria Limited had failed to pay to the Government of Nigeria in past assessment years. The amount was determined through a forensic audit.

The five-member Tribunal, led by its Chairman, Professor A.B. Ahmed, issued the order following an application to it by the Counsel to FIRS under Order XI of the TAT Procedure Rules 2010 which enables a party to make an application at any stage of the proceedings. Counsel to the FIRS drew the attention of the Tribunal to Paragraph 15 (7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 and called on the Tribunal to direct Multichoice  Nigeria Limited  to deposit with the FIRS, 50 percent of the amount of the Assessment under Appeal  as security and a condition that must be fulfilled before the prosecution of the Appeal is brought before TAT.

In certain defined circumstances to which the Multichoice appeal fits, Paragraph 15 (7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 (FIRS Act) requires persons or companies seeking to contest a tax assessment to pay all or a stipulated percentage of the tax assessed before they can be allowed to argue their appeal contesting the assessment at TAT.

Multichoice Nigeria Limited filed the matter at the Lagos TAT following its dispute over FIRS’ issuance of Notices of Assessment and Demand Note in the sum of N1, 822, 923,909,313.94k on 7 April 2021. The amount constitutes what the FIRS calculated as due in taxation to the Federal Government of Nigeria from Multichoice after an investigation over several months to determine the extent to which Multichoice has been evading taxes in Nigeria.

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At yessday’s, August 24 hearing of the matter in Appeal No: TAT/LZ/CIT/062/2021 19/08/2021 (Multichoice Nigeria Limited v. Federal Inland Revenue Service), Multichoice Nigeria Limited amended its notice of Appeal and thereafter sought through its counsel, Bidemi Olumide, an adjournment of the proceedings to enable it to respond to the FIRS’ formal application for accelerated hearing of the Appeal and prayer before the TAT directing  Multichoice to produce the integrated Annual report and Management Account Statements  of Multichoice Group Ltd for Tax Years 2012 to 2020., among other prayers.

In response, however, the FIRS Counsel asked TAT to issue an order requiring that Multichoice makes the statutory deposit of 50 percent of the disputed sum.

After hearing arguments from both sides, TAT upheld the FIRS submission and directed Multichoice Nigeria Limited to deposit with the FIRS, an amount equals 50 percent of the Assessment under the Appeal, plus a sum equal to 10 percent of the said deposit as a condition precedent for further Hearing of the Appeal.

Thereafter, TAT adjourned the Appeal to 23 September 2021 for report of compliance with its Order and continuation of the hearing, subject to compliance with the Tribunal’s order.

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