By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
The federal Governments Thursday set up eight tax administrative tribunals to handle tax dispute in the country. This is coming on the heels of the federal government determination to focus on non oil tax revenue. The tribunals are located in the six geopolitical zones of the federation and one each in Lagos and Abuja. Each of the tribunals has a chairman and four other members called commissioners.
The minister of Finance Dr. Mansur Muhtar who inaugurated the Tribunals said â€œTodayâ€™s occasion signifies our efforts at further transforming and streamlining revenue collection from taxes with the ultimate aim of reducing the countryâ€™s reliance on oil revenues.
â€œAs with all human endeavours, the administration of taxes is bound to throw-up disagreements and disputes. The law authorizes the FIRS to sue and recover taxes charged against taxable persons, but which remain unpaid at the expiration of a notice issued to demand for such payments. Where a taxpayer receives a notice of assessment, he either agrees with the assessment and makes necessary payment or he objects to it.
â€œIn this case, the tax authority will be obliged to amend such assessment or go on to issue a notice of refusal to amend. The ground for appeal has therefore, been established. In the same vein, where the FIRS is aggrieved by the noncompliance of a person, or body corporate in respect of the tax laws, the ground for appeal will also be established. Tax appeal is therefore an important component of any tax administration system and this underscores the crucial role of the Tax Appeal Tribunals that we are about to inaugurateâ€
Continuing the minister said â€œSection 59 of FIRS (Establishment) Act 2007, provides for the establishment of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, replacing the body of Appeal Commissioners and the Value Added Tax Tribunals, with powers to settle disputes arising from the operations of the Act and others spelt out in the Fifth Schedule to the Act. Section 18 (2) Companies Income Tax (Amendment) Act, 2007 states that appeals shall be as provided for in the FIRS Act, and section 68 of the Act states that the provisions of the Federal tax laws shall be read with such modifications as to bring them into conformity withÂ FIRS Act.
â€œThe Tax Appeal Tribunals shall be established in eight different locations in Bauchi, Kaduna, Jos, Ibadan, Enugu, Benin, Lagos and Abuja. The Tribunal shall sit at least once every quarter, being the minimum standard, and each sitting may last for a number of days depending on the magnitude of appeals before the Tribunal. The sittings of the Tribunal shall be held in public, and interested members of the public can attend any hearing.
â€œThe Tribunals are empowered to settle disputes arising from the operations of the Act and others spelt out in the fifth schedule to the FIRS Establishment Act. Specifically, and in accordance with Section 59 (2) of the FIRS Act, they have jurisdiction over disputes arising from the Companies Income Tax Act; Petroleum Profit Tax Act, Personal Income Tax Act, Capital Gains Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act; Stamp Duties Act; Taxes and Levies (Approved list for collection) Act; as well as other laws, regulations, proclamations, government notices or rules related to these Actsâ€.
The various tribunals and their members are:Â AbujaÂ Justice Oseni Oyewo is the Chairman whileÂ Barr. Zulaihat Yusuf Aboki, Abbas Muhammad Gumel, , Mr. Nnamdi Ibegbu, S.A.N.,Barr. Jude Rex-Ogbuku are to serve as commissioners.
In the North Central Zone, Abraham Ndana Yisa is to serve sa the Chairman whileÂ Mr. Jibril Ngatkya Useni, Mrs. Hashiya Ben Umar, Joseph Onyenaechi Ihekwereme, Mrs. Olusola Ibidapo-Obe are commissioners;Â For the North East zoneÂ Mr. Suleman Audu will serve as the Chairman, Mrs. Halima Saâ€™Adiyya Mohammed, Alh. Aliyu Abbas Bello, mni, Chief Innocent Ngozi Amaliri, Mr. Charles Ajuyah (S.A.N),Â Dr. Olumhense Imoisili are to serve as commissioners,
To serve in the North West are Mr. Bashir Abdullahi Albasu, Chairman and to work with him as commissioners in the zone are Mr. Joshua Mutka Waklek, Mrs. Khadeeja Suleiman Halilu, Barr. Eberechi Adele In the South West Mr. Joseph Ashibitete Ushie is the Chairman, Mr. Moshood Oyebisi Oyeleke, Mr. Bulu Ibrahim Mustapha, Mr. Cyril Ikemefuna Ede, Chief James Oyelakin Olopade are the commissioners.
Named as tribunal members in the South East are Prof. Chukwudi Joseph Amasike Chairman, Mrs. Josephine Aladi Achor Agbonila, Mr. Fate Abubakar, Mr. Ignatius Chibututu, Prof. Eddy OmolehinwaÂ are the commissioners. For the South-South Hon. Justice Abdul Salami Abiri is the Chairman while Mr. Daniel Ugbabe-Ugbabe, Mr. Salihu Abdulkarim Barau, â€Mr. Sunday Idam Isu, Mrs. Adenike Aduke Eyoma are Commissioners. In the Lagos zone Mr. Kayode Segun Sofola is serving as the chairman Chairman, Barr. D.H. Gapsiso, Mr. Chinua Asuzu, Mrs. Catherine Ajayi, Barr. Bin-Isa Umar are the commissioners in the Lagos Zone.
Dr. Muhtar while inaugurating the zonal tribunals said â€œThis government is committed to making Nigeria a preferred destination for both local and foreign investors by making the economy more investment friendly.Â You will agree with me that todayâ€™s event is a step in the right direction towards the attainment of that objective. The responsibility being entrusted to you is indeed enormous, but I have no doubt in my mind that given your qualifications and experiences in both the public and private sectors of the economy you will discharge this responsibility creditably.
â€œFurthermore, I implore you to adequately acquaint yourselves with the provisions of the FIRS Act 2007 and other subsisting tax laws in Nigeria, and to be guided by their provisions.Â I urge you to ensure that, as you consider the cases that come before you, the principles of fairness, independence, objectivity and integrity clearly reflect in the decisions you take.Â As you rule on the appeals that come before you, it is my hope that you will engender public confidence not only in the Tribunal but also hopefully, in the fairness of the FIRS.
â€œI wish to assure you of the leadership and support of the Federal Ministry of Finance in the efforts to bequeath, to our country, a tax system that aligns with global best practices and current realities which will, not only encourage voluntary assessment and compliance but also increase the revenue that is available to all tiers of government.â€