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ICAN, FIRS in legal tango over CITN tax seal

Some Accountants have sued the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) before a Federal High Court in Lagos over its plan to compel tax practitioners to use a seal of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) for filing of annual returns to the Service from October 1, 2022.

The five plaintiffs – Chief Afolabi Igbaroola, Alhaji Ademola Ogunsesan, Deacon T.J. Ishola, Mr. Gbenga Afolabi and Mr. Abiodun Adedeji – are members of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).

They filed the suit, marked FHC/L/CS/1837/2022, through their counsel Mr. Olaniyi George on behalf of themselves and members of Licensed and Concerned Members of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

The FIRS is the sole defendant.

The applicants are challenging FIRS over a May 31, 2021 Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) published in the Tribune of July 27, 2022 announcing the implementation of the CITN seal as a condition-precedent for filing of annual returns to the FIRS by Tax Practitioners from October 1, 2022.

They averred that the subject matter of the MoU was litigated by the plaintiffs and the FIRS at the Federal High Court in Lagos in Suit FHC/L/CS/1480/18, which is pending before the Court of Appeal, Lagos as Suit CA/L/CV/1210/19.

They prayed the court to determine, among others, whether the FIRS being an interested party and a party that actively participated in Suit FHC/L/CS/1480/18, and Suit CA/L/CV/1210/19 can amongst “syndicate, facilitate, and/or mediate” on the subject matter of the appeal without their consent.

They prayed the court for five reliefs, including an order that the FIRS “cannot tamper, vary and dissipate the ‘res’ which is the subject matter of appeal in the Appeal Court and having had the knowledge of the appeal and injunction pending appeal and that the activities of the defendant in respect of the MoU…amount to affront to the power and jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal.”

A declaration that the defendant cannot violate its own rule/regulation as provided in Section 61 of the FIRS Act 2007; Section 11 of Tax Administration (Self-Assessment) Regulations 2011 on the appointment and delisting of proper persons to be a tax practitioner in Nigeria and that the advertisement/publication vide the newspaper is not the contemplated by the law guiding the exercise of the appointment and delisting of taxa practitioner in Nigeria.

“An injunction restraining the defendant or any other committee that maybe set up under the relevant provisions of the FIRS Act 2007 from taking any step or carrying out any action including the ones already published in the Tribune July 27, 2022 which is expected to be enforced on the 2nd day of October 2022 pending the final determination of the Appeal…”

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