The right of appeal against the assessment made by the relevant authorities : practice and procedure

Tax law is the aspect of law that regulate the compulsory contributions of every individual in the society levied upon him by an Act, law or instrument establishing that system of tax or tax to support the government in the realization of government policy and enhance growth and development. So all the taxpayers normally pay their tax at the appropriate time or period prescribed by the tax laws system.
In this regards, the Nigeria tax laws system provide procedure to be followed in case the taxpayer aggrieved with the assessment made by relevant authority ( federal I land re service or state revenue or authority of local government area) tasked with the responsibility of making the assessment. As same is in line with the provision the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)

THE PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE OF APPEAL:
There is no denying in the fact that Nigerian tax laws system provides for the right of aggrieved taxpayers to object and appeal against the assessment made by the Federal Inland Revenue Service FIRS or State Revenue Service or local government, and possibly any authority saddled with the responsibility of tax collections. In addition to this, the system further provides for administrative channels for the resolution of tax disputes before resorting to litigation.
Right of an aggrieved tax payer to appeal came to the fore in the case of Oando Supply and Trading Limited v. Federal Inland Revenue Service (2011) 4 TLRN 113 Where the court explain the procedure. An aggrieved taxpayer who is not happy with the assessment made by the relevant authority of tax collector may write an objection to that tax authority stating grounds of objection. The tax authority either upholds the objection and quashes the assessment or rejects the objection. Where the tax authority rejects the objection, it issues a notice of refusal to amend (NORA) to the taxpayer.

 

The aggrieved taxpayer may, within 30 days of receiving the NORA, file an appeal at the Tax Appeal Tribunal or relevant court having jurisdiction over the dispute. It is noteworthy that the available administrative channels for the resolution of tax disputes do not bar an aggrieved taxpayer from proceeding to the Tax Appeal Tribunal or the courts, pending the exhaustion of the administrative process.

 

Meaning of Assessment:
An assessment is an evaluation of a specific asset or assets to determine its value in meeting a value demanded or designed by law. The most common assessment that most people experience is the assessment of their property or properties for the purpose of calculating the tax owed on the property to the authority due .

It can also be define as any assessment made by demand or other similar formal notice of a tax liability issued by or on behalf of any Tax Authority by virtue of which the Company or taxpayer either liable to make a payment of tax or will, with the passing of time, become so liable in the absence of any successful application to postpone any such payment.

It goes, therefore, that to say all federal, state, or local sales, use, excise, gross receipts, municipal fees, transfer, transaction or similar taxes, fees, or surcharges, but excludes: (a) any tax, fee, assessment, or surcharge on either party’s corporate existence, status, or income; (b) property taxes, fees, assessment, or surcharges; (c) any corporate franchise tax, fee, assessment, or surcharge; and (d) taxes, fees, assessment, and surcharges which are imposed directly on a party’s gross or retain revenues. In pursuant to pgph 3 of the second schedule of PITA 2004 and also pagph 10 part 3 of the second schedule, an individual in receipt of an annuity of faxed annual amount paid out of the income of a settlement, trust, or an estate shall be assessable to tax on the full amount of annuity. By virtue of the provision of pgph 3 (c) of the same Act, which provides for the remainder of the computed income.

Under section 65 of C.I.T.A. 2004(as amended) 2007, the Board is charged with the responsibility of assessing the tax derived out from the company. And it determines the tax according to the profits made by each company and determines the assessment made. There are plethora of cases wherein the courts succinctly scrutinized the issues of assessment.
In the case of F.B.I.R v Omotesho 1 NTC 57, Belgore J. (as he then was) explained the factor to be considered in the given assessment by the tax authority. Wherein the court held that in making an assessment to the best of judgment against who is in fault as regards the supply of information, the tax authority must not act dishonestly or vindictively or captiously. So, assessment must be fair and proper figure of assessment and take into consideration local knowledge surcharge and repute in regards to the assessor’s circumstances as well as previous returns and other matter and which tax authority thinks will assist at in arriving at fair and proper estimates.
As it was upheld in INCOME TAX COMMISSIONERS v. BADRIDAS RAMRA SHOP, AKOLA wherein it was held that reason is drawn for the difference in relief granted in respect of taxpaying between two years which the circumstances may warrant it. Also, see the F.B.I R v. AZIGBO BROTHERS Ltd. NTC. P 202 The company, having failed to deliver the return of income, was assessed to tax on the best of judgment basis. Also, the case of CHAIRMAN BOARD OF INLAND REVENUE v. JOSEPH REZCALLAH & SONS Ltd where the assessment was made without demand having been made for a return, and it was held that the chief of Inspector of Taxes did not, on the facts, exercise his discretion on the best of his judgment in making the assessment. The Assessment must be made to the best ability of any authority shoulder the onus of making it.

The meaning of tax objection:
It is germane to conceptualize tax objection; it is a formal process by which dispute resolution under which the taxpayer has rights of appeal and objection. Where a taxpayer does not agree with a tax assessment or decision by FCRA, or Federal Inland Revenue Service, or State Revenue Service, or any other body, the taxpayer has the right to appeal the tax decision through a written notice of objection to FRCA or the other bodies within the objection period. A person who is unhappy and enraged with a tax decision may lodge an objection regarding a tax assessment within 60 consecutive days of service of the notice; and other tax decisions within 30 consecutive days of service of the notice. A person’s right to challenge a tax decision is covered in Division III of Part II of the Tax Administration Decree (TAD).
Objection and Appeal: Its Legality or Otherwise.

It is constitutionally and statutorily right of a taxpayer to object to the assessment made by the tax collectors if aggrieved or afflicted by the taxpayer on the basis of the outcome of the tax assessment made by the relevant authority. It is an opportunity and privilege given unto the taxpayer by both the Constitution and statute establishing each tax in Nigeria. So as apotheosized in the provision of section 36 of 1999 CFRN (as amended), which provides for the right of fair hearing.

In addition to this, aptly inured the clear provision of section 6 (6) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which provides for determining the action of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of a person and or any issue or question as to whether any act or omission by any authority or person or as to whether any law or any judicial decision conforms with the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy set out in the Constitution.

To hammer it up, it’s pettifogged to say that our Constitution allowed any aggrieved person or party to approach the court for any redress in respect of any action or matters, whether civil, tort, or criminal nature.

In the same vein, in the apparent provision of section 58 of P.I.T A. 2004, (as amended) 2011, a taxable being aggrieved by an assessment to income tax made by the authorities endowed the liberty to object to the assessment made. Accordingly, such a person may apply to the relevant tax authority by notice of objection in writing to review and to revise the assessment. Such application shall state the ground of objection precisely.

It follows from the objection that if the taxpayer is dissatisfied with the assessment, he has the right of appeal. As Nigeria tax law system established body of appeal commissioners as espoused in the clear provision of section 60 of PITA 2004.
Hierarchy of Court in toax Matter:
Tax matters in Nigeria are majorly decided by the courts and the Tax Appeal Tribunal. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and the Taxes and Levies (Approved List for Tax Collection) Act, LFN 2004 provide for the assessment and collection of tax and taxes by the federal, states and local governments of Nigeria.

So, the jurisdiction of the courts over tax disputes derives from whether the taxes are federal, state, or local government taxes as maintained by relevant authority on the collection of each tax. Jurisdiction over taxes administered at both the federal and state levels, such as stamp duties, is determined by the legal personality of the taxpayer and, for individuals, their place of residence.

The Federal High Court, State High Courts, the Revenue Courts of the various local government councils, and Tax Appeal Tribunal are all vested with the responsibility and jurisdiction to hear and determine tax matters. Appeals tax Tribunal is the next body to adjudicate on tax matters after the relevant authority who made assessment if necessary.

In the purport to this, Appeal from the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT) lie to the Federal High Court, appeals from the Federal High Court and states’ High Courts lie to the Court of Appeal, while appeals from the Court of Appeal lie to the Supreme Court such as any ordinary matter, Supreme court which is the apex and final court in the country.
It should be noteworthy that Tax matters have been held by the Nigerian courts to be outside the purview of arbitration or any other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The Court of Appeal in the case of SNEPCO and 3 Others v. Federal Inland Revenue Service upheld that the decision of the Federal High Court that disputes over company taxation is exclusive to the Federal High Court and, thus, are not arbitrable as they pertain to the revenue accruing to the sovereign government. So same should not be within the armpit of the Alternative Disputes Resolution mechanism.

 

  • Reference:
    Oando Supply and Trading Limited v. Federal Inland Revenue Service (2011) 4 TLRN 113
    The Tax Disputes and Litigation Review: Nigeria.Etigwe Uwa, Adeyinka Aderemi, Vincent Owhor and Agbada S Agbada
    Streamsowers & Köhn.
    Tax-talk-Tax-Objection-by-taxpayer-2016
    Revenue Law and Practice in Nigeria 3rd Edition; Muhammad Taofeeq Abdulrazaq.
    C.I.T.A 2004(as amended) 2007 Tax Lawson Nigeria.
    B.I.R v Omotesho 1 NTC 57,
    INCOME TAX COMMISSIONERS v. BADRIDAS RAMRA SHOP, AKOLA.
    AZIGBO BROTHERS Ltd. NTC. P 202
    CHAIRMAN BOARD OF INLAND REVENUE v. JOSEPH REZCALLAH & SONS Ltd
    1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamiu Lukman Akanbi is a prolific writer, a researcher and an immediate student of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
He can be reached through:
08146965956 or 09011669144
[email protected]

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