FIRS Urges Court To Strike Out UAC’s Appeal Against N2.4bilion Tax Liability

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, through its counsel, Barrister Usman Shehu, has filed an application before a Federal High Court in Lagos urging it to strike out an Appeal filed before the court by UAC Nigeria Plc against the judgment of Tax Appeal tribunal ordering it to pay the sum of N2,452,398,121.00

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In the alternative, the court should mandate UAC Plc to deposit the sum of N2,452,398,121.00 being the judgment sum in an interest yielding account maintained by the Chief Registrar of the court as pre-condition to the hearing of the Appeal.

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In an affidavit deposed to by a legal practitioner, Peace Ogie, she averred that by notice of Appeal dated 17th August 2018, UAC Plc appealed to the Tax Appeal Tribunal, Lagos Zone, against the decision of FIRS as contained in the FIRS’s Notice of Refusal to Amend NORA dated 19th July 2018 and the FIRS revised Notice of Assessment dated 26th July 2018 in respect of CIT, Tertiary Education Tax, VAT and COT obligations of the company for the period of 2013 to 2016 Financial Years.

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In the Notice of refusal to amend and the revised Notices of assessment, FIRS had established the outstanding tax obligation of UAC Plc for the period of 2013 to 2016 to be the sum of N2,452,398,121.

In a considered judgment delivered on 8 November 2019, the Tax Appeal Tribunal affirmed the validity of the Tax assessments appealed against, and accordingly dismissed UAC’s appeal.

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Being dissatisfied with the judgment of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, UAC Plc appealed to the Federal High Court in Lagos

However, UAC Plc failed to pay the judgment sum to FIRS within 30 days of the judgment as mandated by paragraph 16(3) of 5th Schedule pursuant to section 59(1) of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Act. 2007.

UAC Plc has equally failed to deposit the said judgment sum in an interest yielding account maintained by the Chief Registrar of the court, as required by the order 5 Rule1(a) and(b) of the Federal high court Tax Appeal Rules 2022.

The company is pursuing the instant Appeal without first complying with the requirements of the law and the rule of the court.

FIRS is, however, contending that UAC appeal is incompetent and deserves to be struck out by the court, or in the alternative the court can mandate the company to comply with the rules of the court before proceeding further with the appeal.

In a counter affidavit sworn to by a lawyer, Ifeoluwa Akinmade, in opposing the FIRS application, the acting secretary of UAC Plc, Ijeoma Uzuana, said the company is not in a position to deposit N2,452,398,121.00 as a pre-condition to exercise its constitutional right of appeal. “It is a huge sum of money to raise at a short notice, bearing in mind that UAC is a largely investment holding company that is dependent upon dividends received from its subsidiaries for its own cash flow,” she said

“Dividends are only paid as and when the subsidiaries have distributable profit.”

The Tax Appeal Tribunal did not find that UAC Pc is liable to pay tax in the sums contained in the notices of refusal to amend, the additional tax assessment imposed on UAC Plc. In fact, the sums contained in the notices of refusal to amend are composite amounts comprising disputed tax, interest and penalties.

Consequently, in the interest of justice, the company is urging the court to refuse to grant the application.

The case has been adjourned till 7 April 2022 for hearing.

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