Revenue System: Why FIRS remains VAT collector in Nigeria ─Minister

*Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice Abubakar Malami has stated the parties to the Value-Added Tax dispute should maintain the status quo as the Federal Inland Revenue Service will continue to collect VAT till the Supreme Court decides on the matter

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Against the backdrop of the current dispute and associated legal fireworks between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and some states of the Federation over who should collect the Value-Added Tax (VAT) on taxable products and services, the Federal Government has said that FIRS will continue to collect VAT, following the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the matter.

ConsumerConnect reports Mr. Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, has stated the parties to the dispute should maintain the status quo for now.

The Minister said: “The position of not only the Federal Government but indeed, the Judiciary is the fact that status quo associated with the collecting of VAT should be maintained.”

Malami said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria in New York, United States (US), while speaking on the disagreement over the collection of VAT between FIRS and Rivers Government.

He explained that the ruling of the Court of Appeal that FIRS and the Rivers Government maintain status quo favours FIRS.

According to the Minister, the Federal Inland Revenue Service had been collecting the VAT before the dispute arose, over which the Rivers government approached the High Court.

Malami further stated: “As far as the judicial system is concerned, the status quo as at the time the parties approached the court, it was the Federal Inland Revenue Service that was indeed collecting the Value-Added Tax.

“So with that in mind, the Federal Government has succeeded in obtaining an order that establishes the sustenance of the status quo, which status quo is that the Federal Inland Revenue Service should continue collection.

“This is pending the determination of the cases that were instituted by states, particularly the Rivers State Government and the Lagos State government. The cases are being determined by the court.”

Recall the Rivers State Government had urged the Supreme Court to set aside the Court of Appeal’s September 10 ruling ordering it and FIRS to maintain status quo on the issue of VAT collection.

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal, headed by Haruna Tsammani, issued the order being challenged at the Supreme Court by the Rivers State Government.

The state also urged the apex court to disband the panel of the appellate court, which gave the interim order and ordered another one to be constituted to hear the case.

However, the Minister for Justice stated: “But one thing of interest is the fact that the Federal Government had indeed taken cognisance of the fact that where there exists a dispute between a State and Federal Government, it is the Supreme Court that should naturally have the jurisdiction to determine the dispute between the state and the federation.

“And we are taking steps to consider the possibility of instituting an action before the Supreme Court for the purpose of having this matter determined once and for all.”

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