The Federal Inland Revenue Service has written to the National Assembly in obvious desperation to preserve its function of collecting the Value Added Tax.
The federal tax agency also demanded that the federal lawmakers approve for it, the establishment of the Federal Revenue Court of Nigeria.
A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had on August 10 ruled a judgment restraining the FIRS from collecting VAT and personal income tax in Rivers State.
Although the FIRS had contested the ruling in the Appeal Court, it however, failed to obtain a stay of execution it sought to prevent the state government from enforcing the verdict.
It was, however, learnt today, that on this warring matter, a letter signed by the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami, and dated July 1, 2021, was addressed to the Chairman of the Constitution Review who is also the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase.
According to Punch, the letter with references number FIRS/EC/CWREP/0416/21/037 which was received in Wase’s office on July 2, was titled, ‘Request for sponsorship of a bill for the establishment of the proposed Federal Revenue Court of Nigeria and the insertion of Value Added Tax under item 58 of the exclusive legislative list’.
FIRS specifically pleaded with the nation’s apex legislative institution, to bestow all exclusive settlement of tax disputes, including federal tax laws, companies income tax, petroleum tax, income tax, capital gain tax, stamp duty, VAT, taxes, levies and other laws, regulations, proclamations, government notices and rules on it.
The letter partly read, “The Federal Inland Revenue Service further proposes for the amendment of Section 251 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the FRN 1999 (amended) by removing the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court only on anything connected or related to federal tax matters since same would be vested on the proposed federal revenue court.
“The Federal Inland Revenue Service also proposes for the insertion of value added tax immediately after Stamp Duties under item 58 part II of 2nd schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the FRN.
“The Federal Inland Revenue Service appreciates the maximum cooperation and support we are receiving from your good office on tax matters generally.
“This has boosted our morale and determination to do more for the government in tax revenue generation.
“The FIRS therefore wishes to further request that the House of Representatives consider the request for the establishment of the Federal Revenue Court.”
The FIRS in the letter, noted that Item 59 of the Exclusive Legislative List Part 1, 2nd Schedule to the Constitution of the FRN 1999 as amended vests the powers to make laws on anything related to tax matters in Nigeria, on the National Assembly.
It added, “Historically, the Federal Revenue Court was established by the promulgation of the Federal Revenue Court Decree No.13 1973.
“However, the enactment of Section 228(1) and 230(1) of the 1979 Constitution of FRN, renamed the Revenue Court to Federal High Court.
“This was further replicated by the Federal High Court Decree (amendment) 1991 Cap (60l LFN, now referred to as the Federal High Court (amendment) Act 2005 Cap F12 LFN revised edition 2010.
“This amended Section 7 of the Federal High Court Act (1991), conferred exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal High Court in relation to tax matters amongst others. Section 228(1) and 230(1) was further re-enacted as Section 251(1) (a) to (s), of the Constitution of FRN 1999.
“The FIRS hereby proposes for the insertion of Section 254(G) to 254 (L) in the 1999 Constitution of the FRN to provide for the establishment of Federal Revenue Court, the appointment of Chief Judge, power to make rules for the proceedings, the appointment of judges of FRC and the exclusive jurisdiction of FRC on federal tax matters.”