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 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.

The Tribunal therefore ruled that the appellant (Union Bank Plc) should pay CRIRS the total sum of N56.672,908.72 (fifty six million, six hundred and seventy two thousand, nine hundred and eighty naira, twenty seven kobo only) as outstanding withholding tax on interest expenses, penalty and interest thereon.

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.

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

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.

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