The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on Monday urged the newly inaugurated Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) Commissioners “to discharge their duties with high level of professionalism, integrity, diligence and fairness to all parties”.
Ahmed who stated this while inaugurating the new commissioners in Abuja, also implored the commissioners to avoid unnecessary delays and adjournment of cases, adding that their decisions should be in line with tax laws.
A statement by the special adviser to the Minister of Finance on media and communications, Mr Paul Ella Abechi, quoted the minister saying, that the government’s desire to achieve a sustainable growth and development of the economy, has informed the concerted efforts by successive governments over the time to reform the Nigerian tax system, among others.
According to her, One of the outcomes of the series of reforms is the strengthening of the appeal process and creation of the Tax Appeal Tribunal by the Federal Government in 2010.
She noted that the establishment of the Tribunal marked a very significant milestone in the annals of the nation’s tax dispute resolution mechanism.
The minister said, “One of the key objectives of the government in setting up the Tribunal is to reduce the incidence of tax evasion and improve the tax payers’ confidence. Others include, the need to ensure fairness and transparency of the tax administration and to minimize delays and bottlenecks in adjudication of tax disputes.
“As an essential component of the ‘change’ agenda of the present administration, Nigeria launched a Revised National Tax Policy in January 2017 and a provided tax amnesty platform through the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme. Very fundamentally, the current tax policy of the government places emphasis on areas of harnessing all necessary inputs towards achieving voluntary tax compliance.
“We therefore urge you to ensure quality service delivery in line with extant laws, particularly in supporting the government quest to improve revenue generation and minimize the monolithic dependence on oil revenue.
“The government has strengthened the Tax Appeal Tribunal by ensuring that the tribunal is constituted across the six geo-political zones in addition to the ones in Lagos and Abuja for ease and accessibility by the taxpayers.
“Additionally, we have also expanded the Lagos Tribunal to three panels in order to facilitate the timely resolution of appeals emanating from Lagos. Going forward, the government is working towards the strengthening of the operations and legal framework of the Tax Appeal Tribunal in line with the recommendation of the National Tax Policy Review Committee”, she noted
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Dr Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, said that the Tax Appeal Commissioners being inaugurated were, “expected to hold office for a term of three years, which is subject to renewal for another term of three years only”.
He noted that, the Tribunal is one of the windows provided in Nigeria’s tax administration system which offers an aggrieved party the opportunity to explore other dispute resolution mechanisms before gaining access to the Law Courts, adding that amongst other things, it helps to reduce the caseload of the over-laden regular courts by providing less formal fora for quicker, cheaper and expert resolution of tax disputes in the public interest.
Dr Isa-Dutse said, “The Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) was established pursuant to Section 59 (I) and the Fifth Schedule of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act, 2007. Its mandate is to resolve disputes arising from the operations of the following tax laws and regulations as specified in the 1st Schedule to the FIRS (Establishment) Act, 2007:
“i. Companies Income Tax Act (CITA); ii. Petroleum Profit Tax Act (PPTA); iii. Personal Income Tax Act (PITA); iv. Capital Gains Tax Act (CGTA); V. Stamp Duties Act (SDA); vi. Value Added Tax Act (VATA); vii. Taxes and Levies (Approved list for collection) Act, and viii. Other laws, regulations, proclamations, government notices or rules ryelated to these Acts which are expressly spelt out in the Fifth Schedule to the FIRS (Establishment) Act”.
The Tribunal formally commenced operations in July, 2010 following the inauguration of the pioneer Commissioners. The Tax Appeal Commissioners inaugurated today are the second set since the establishment of the Tribunal.
For administrative convenience, the Tribunal is established in eight zones to cover the six geo-political Zones, in Nigeria, namely: Abuja Zone, Lagos Zone, North Central Zone, (Jos), North East Zone, (Bauchi), North West Zone, (Kaduna), South East Zone, (Enugu), South South Zone, (Benin), and South West Zone, (Ibadan).
The Coordinating Secretariat, coordinates, renders support services and facilitates the operations of the respective Zones. Each Tribunal consists of a Chairman and four other Commissioners.