Tax Appeal Tribunal Orders Union Bank to Pay CRIRS N56.6m

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By Bassey Inyang

The Cross River Internal Revenue Service (CRIRS) has won a landmark case instituted against it by Union Bank Plc, before the Tax Appeal Tribunal (South-south zone) sitting in Benin.

The Chairman of CRIRS, Mr. Akpanke Ogar, made the disclosure in Calabar in a press statement made available to THISDAY on Tuesday.

Ogar stated that the judgment delivered on November 11, 2020, by the tribunal headed by Prof. Obehi A. Odiase-Alegimenlen, ordered the appellant (Union Bank Plc) to pay to CRIRS a total sum of N56.672,908.72 as outstanding withholding tax on interest expenses, penalty and interest thereon.

The statement read in part: “Union Bank PLC had on November 4th 2019, filed an appeal before the tribunal, contending among other things, that the assessment is excessive and arbitrary, and that it is ultra vires the powers of the tax authority to demand records and documents, including the nationwide data of the appellants’ customers not within the tax jurisdiction.

“In upholding the respondent’s assessment notice, the tribunal held that the law in section 46, 47, 49, 55, and 58 of the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA) (as amended) does not limit the tax authority to call for any particular kind of information, but such documents and information as the relevant tax authority may seem necessary.

“The tribunal further held that it is not in the place of the appellant to determine for the tax authority which information is relevant or not unless such demands conflict with statutory rights of the tax payer of the extant provision of the law.

“The tribunal also held that the law has mandated tax payers to release information on request by the tax authority and that the tax authority is empowered to call for information as often as possible.

“The tribunal had ruled on November 11th 2020, that the relevant tax authority can request any information it deems fit from a tax payer, and it is not tax player’s place to determine which information is relevant or not.

“By virtue of relevant provisions of PITA, 2011 (as amended) a tax payer cannot withhold any requested information from the tax authority on the grounds of confidentiality.”

Ogar said the Appeal Tribunal, therefore, upheld the additional assessment Notice of Withholding Tax on interest payment served by the Cross River Internal Revenue Service on Union Bank Plc.