The Lagos State division of the Tax Appeal Tribunal has ruled that MTN Nigeria Communications must pay $72,551,059 in back taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for the period from 2007 to 2017. However, the tribunal absolved the telecommunication firm from paying a sum of $21,039,807 in penalties and interest on the principal tax amount.
The verdict was delivered by a five-person panel led by Professor A. B. Hamed in response to an appeal filed by MTN Nigeria against the FIRS’s request for payment of the back taxes.
The dispute originated from a report issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation in May 2018, which covered MTN’s Forms A and M transactions for the accounting years from 2007 to 2017. Subsequently, the FIRS issued a VAT assessment of $93,590,366 million to MTN in July 2021, including $72,551,059 million as the principal tax liability and $21,039,807 million for penalties and interest on the principal sum.
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MTN contested the first assessment, leading to a revised assessment in April 2022 for a total of $135,697,755 million. While the principal tax liability in the revised assessment was lower than the first assessment, the interest and penalty imposed were higher.
MTN objected to the revised assessment, but the FIRS refused to amend it. The Tax Appeal Tribunal, after considering all the processes and authorities presented by both parties, ruled that the principal tax liability must be paid but set aside the penalties and interest.
In essence, MTN is required to settle the assessed tax liabilities of $72.5 million but is not obliged to pay the additional penalties and interest.
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