Section 59(1) of the Federal Inland Revenue (Establishment), Act 2007, establishes a body known as the Tax Appeal Tribunal (herein referred to as (“Tribunal”). This body replaced the Body of Appeal Commissioners in the fifth schedule. By implication, it means that the body consists of independent and unbiased people who will be responsible for settling disputes between aggrieved taxpayers and the relevant tax authority.
It is believed that in the course of filing tax returns by individuals and companies, there are likely discrepancies between those filed by the relevant tax authority and the Individual. As such, the Tax Appeal Tribunal exercises jurisdiction to resolve disparities on essentially income-related taxes.
Organizational Structure of the TAT:
The Tribunals are set up across the six (6) geo-political zones of the country in accordance with the provision of Section 59(1) of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Establishment Act 2007 with two (2) additional Tribunals in Lagos and Abuja. Therefore, the Tribunal is an amalgam of eight (8) zonal tribunals and a Coordinating Secretariat.
Jurisdiction of the Tribunal:
Pursuant to Section 59(2) of the FIRS Act, the Tribunal is empowered to adjudicate on tax matters arising from the operation of the Act. This power is exercised on certain taxes, to wit, CIT, PIT, VAT, PPT among others. This also extend to some government notices, regulations et al. Interestingly, where the Tribunal finds an element of criminality in a case before it, same can only be transferred to the Attorney General of the Federation or State. This is because the Tribunal doesn’t have the right to settle disputes tainted with criminality.
How are they appointed?
The appointment of any member of the tax appeal tribunal is made by the Minister of Finance and the notice of these appointments must be stated in the Federal Gazette. The person to be appointed is expected to represent a particular zone and matters stated in his letter of appointment. It is generally believed that anyone appointed to the tax appeal tribunal must be someone with cognate knowledge of tax legislation and practices in Nigeria.
The composition of the tax appeal tribunal is the medley of not more than 5 members who are commonly referred to as the “Tax Appeal Commissioners.”
What about “Qualifications?”
For a person to act as a commissioner of a particular zone and matters under the tax appeal tribunal, such person must be someone with cognate experience in the knowledge of tax legislation and must also have 15years post call to bar. He/she must also be a person who must have shown his/her capacity in the management of business organizations in Nigeria
The remuneration of the Federal and State Appeal Commissioner is being determined by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), and this shall be specified in the individual appointment letter issued to the appeal commissioners.
Resignation/Removal of a Tax Appeal Commissioner:
A tax Appeal Commissioner may resign from his appointment by giving proper notice to the Minister of Finance. Unless where the minister permits him to leave his office, he is expected to continue to hold office until the expiration of three months from the date of receipt of his notice of resignation or until a person appointed as his successor assumes office or until the expiration of his tenure whichever is earlier.
He/she may be removed by the minister of finance on the ground of misconduct or incapacity after due enquiry has been made.
Secretary and Other Staff of the Tribunal:
The Minister of Finance is to appoint the secretary of the body of the place or zone where the tax appeal tribunal exercises its jurisdiction and this appointment must be published in the federal gazette. The secretary is responsible for the general control of the body and also responsible for the keeping of records and day to day administration and the direction and control of all employees of the tribunal.
All other staff responsible for the efficient running of the body are generally appointed by the Minister of Finance.
Powers and Functions of the Tax Appeal Tribunal:
The tax appeal tribunal has power to adjudicates on disputes and discrepancies arising from the tax laws, to wit, CITA, PITA, PPTA, VAT, CGTA, SDA, and any other tax laws made or to be made from time to time by the National Assembly. Resolution of any tax disputes must be with the application of the necessary tax laws
Powers of the Tax Appeal Tribunal is to:
- summon and enforce attendance of any person and examine him on oath
- require the Discovery and production of documents
- receive evidence of affidavit
- call for the examination of witnesses or documents review its decisions
- dismiss an application for default or deciding matters ex parte
- set aside any order or dismissal of any application for default or any other passed by it ex parte
- do anything which in the opinion of the Tribunal is incidental or ancillary to its functions.
CITN, “NIGERIA TAX GUIDES AND STATUTES”. Volume 1, Second Edition
Offiong, U. Bassey (2009). “Companies income Taxation in Nigeria”
Seyi, Ojo (2004). “Fundamental Principles of Nigeria Tax”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lawal Rasheed Oluwafemi, a 200 level Accounting Student of University of Ilorin is an astute member of the Tax Club, Editorial Board and winner of the 2021 CITN National Tax Quiz Contest. He is a passionate and versatile student with particular flair for accounting and tax related matters. He can be contacted via: firstname.lastname@example.org or through his LinkedIn page.
NB: THIS PUBLICATION IS ONLY AN INFORMATIVE PIECE FROM THE EDITORIAL BOARD, THE TAX CLUB, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN. FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVICE, REACH OUT TO EXPERTS.