The Nigerian government has inaugurated new commissioners for the Tax Appeal Tribunal (TAT).
At the ceremony in Abuja on Monday, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, urged the commissioners to avoid unnecessary delays and adjournment of cases and ensure their decisions are in line with the Nigerian tax laws.
Mrs Ahmed further urged them to discharge their duties “with high level of professionalism, integrity, diligence and fairness to all parties.”
According to the minister, one of the outcomes of the series of the tax reforms in Nigeria was the strengthening of the appeal process and creation of the TAT by the Federal Government in 2010.
She described the establishment of the tribunal as a very significant milestone in Nigeria’s tax dispute resolution mechanism.
“One of the key objectives for setting up the tribunal was to reduce incidences of tax evasion and improve other payers confidence. Also to ensure fairness and transparency of tax administration and to minimise delays and bottlenecks in the 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 provided tax amnesty platform through the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
“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’s quest to improve revenue generation and minimise the monolithic dependence on oil revenue.”
She said the government has strengthened the tribunal by ensuring it is constituted across the six geo-political zones in addition to the ones in Lagos and Abuja “for ease and accessibility by 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.”
In his remarks at the event, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, said the commissioners would hold office for “a term of three years, which is subject to renewal for another term of three years only.”
Mr Isa-Dutse said about 489 appeal cases had been filed with 409 concluded since the establishment of the tribunal in 2010.
He said 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.
“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.
According to Mr Isa-Dutse, TAT has the mandate to resolve disputes arising from the operations of tax laws and regulations as specified in the First Schedule to the FIRS (Establishment) Act, 2007:
The Tribunal was established in eight zones to cover the six geo-political zones in Nigeria. The zones are Abuja, Lagos, North Central (Jos), North East, (Bauchi), North West, (Kaduna), South East, (Enugu), South South, (Benin), and South West, (Ibadan).
Each tribunal consists of a chairman and four other commissioners. The commissioners inaugurated on Monday were the second set since the establishment of the tribunal.