Tax evasion: Appeal Tribunal orders Multichoice Nigeria to pay N900bn, 50% backlog before hearing appeal

A Tax Appeal Tribunal, (TAT), sitting in Lagos, on Tuesday, ordered Multichoice Nigeria  Limited, owners of popular cable television services, DSTV, GOTV to pay 50 percent of N1.8 trillion, which the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS), has determined through a forensic audit to be the amount in taxes that Multichoice Nigeria Limited had failed to pay to the Fwderal Government in past assessment years.

The five-member TAT, led by its Chairman, Professor A.B. Ahmed, issued the order following an application to it by the Counsel to FIRS.

Multichoice Nigeria Limited filed the matter at the Lagos TAT following its dispute over FIRS’ issuance of Notices of Assessment and Demand Note in the sum of N1, 822, 923,909,313.94k on 7 April 2021.

The amount constitutes what the FIRS calculated as due in taxation to the Federal Government from Multichoice after an investigation over several months to determine the extent to which Multichoice has been evading taxes in Nigeria.

At Tuesday’s hearing of the matter, Multichoice Nigeria Ltd amended its Notice of Appeal and thereafter sought for an adjournment of the proceedings to enable it to respond to the FIRS’ formal application for accelerated hearing of the appeal, and prayer before the TAT to order Multichoice to produce DSTV’s revenue and subscriber database, among other prayers.

In response, however, the FIRS Counsel asked TAT to issue an order requiring that Multichoice makes the statutory deposit of 50% of the disputed sum.

After hearing arguments from both sides, TAT upheld the FIRS Act and directed Multichoice Nigeria Limited to deposit with the FIRS the amount prescribed by the law, which is an amount equal to the tax charged upon Multichoice in the preceding year of assessment, or one half of the tax charged by the assessment under appeal (whichever is lesser), plus a sum equal to 10% of the said deposit as a condition precedent for further hearing of the Appeal.

Thereafter, TAT adjourned the appeal to 23 September, for the continuation of the hearing, subject to compliance with the tribunal’s order.

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