MultiChoice Nigeria Limited has been compelled by a tax appeal tribunal (TAT) in Lagos to deposit 50 per cent of the disputed N1.8 trillion tax with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
Abdullahi Ismaila Ahmad, FIRS spokesperson, made this known in a statement on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.
In July, the FIRS had appointed some commercial banks as agents to recover N1.8 trillion from accounts of MultiChoice Nigeria Limited (MCN) And MultiChoice Africa (MCA).
Muhammad Nami, FIRS chairman, explained that the decision to appoint the banks as agents; as well as the mandate to freeze the accounts was as a result of the group’s continued refusal to grant FIRS access to its servers for audit.
Nami had noted that FIRS discovered that the companies persistently breached all agreements and undertakings with the service and through a forensic audit MultiChoice Nigeria Limited was indebted to the Federal Government; adding that it had failed to pay taxes worth N1.8 trillion.
In its reaction, MultiChoice had assured that it would work with FIRS to prove its tax compliance.
MultiChoice is the owner of the satellite televisions, DStv, Gotv and ShowMax– popular subscription-based platforms in Nigeria.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the five-member TAT led by A.B. Ahmed, its chairman, issued the order; following an application brought to the tribunal by the counsel to FIRS.
“The Counsel made the application under Order XI of the TAT Procedure Rules 2010; which requires MultiChoice, or any other tax payer who disputes their tax assessments; to make the statutory deposit required under Paragraph 15(7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 (FIRS Act); as a condition that must be fulfilled before the prosecution of the appeal brought before TAT,” .
“In certain defined circumstances to which the MultiChoice appeal fits; Paragraph 15(7) of the Fifth Schedule to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (Establishment) Act 2007 (FIRS Act); requires persons or companies seeking to contest a tax assessment to pay all or a stipulated percentage of the tax assessed before they can be allowed to argue their appeal contesting the assessment at TAT.” it said.
The FIRS said MultiChoice filed a suit at the Lagos TAT; noting that this followed a dispute over the agency’s issuance of notices of assessment; as well as a demand note in the sum of N1, 822, 923,909,313.94k on April 7, 2021.
Thereafter, the TAT adjourned the appeal to September 23, 2021 for report of compliance with its Order; as well as the continuation of the hearing, subject to compliance with the Tribunal’s order.