Insurance firms drag FIRS to tribunal over N1.15bn excess tax

The insurance firms also want the revenue service to pay interest on the excess tax

 

NICON Insurance Company Plc and 43 others, on Monday in Abuja, dragged the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to the Tax Appeal Tribunal over the non-refund of about N1.15 billion overpayment for stamp duties.

The insurance companies, in an appeal filed by their Counsel, Taiwo Osipitan, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, alleged that they paid the excess stamp duties to the Federal Government through the FIRS between 2002 and 2006.

They averred that the FIRS acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” by refusing to refund the excess stamp duties to them, pointing out that the tax agency erred in law “in refusing to refund excess stamp duties paid on various increases on their share capital.”

According to the companies, the revenue service was wrong to have claimed that their refund of excess stamp duties paid by them on their respective statements of increase in share capital were time barred by virtue of Section 21 of Stamp Duties Act Cap S.8 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

Sunday Oghayei, who stood in for the defense counsel, said the appellants’ claims “are for a refund of excess stamp duties paid over and above the amount prescribed by relevant Statute/Money had and received by the respondent.”

The revenue service says the application for refund of excess stamp duty payments, on increases in the applicants share capital, is statute barred. The insurance companies are seeking a declaration against this position; describing it as incorrect, arbitrary, oppressive, and a derogation of the appellants’ rights.

They are also seeking for “an order setting aside the decision of the respondent to the effect that the appellants claim for a refund of excess stamp duties paid on various increases on their share capital is time barred.

Also sought is an order directing the respondent to refund the respective amounts due to each of the appellants as shown in the schedule attached to their application for refund.

They are also seeking an order that the respondent pays compounded interest on all refunds due to appellants at a rate of 20 per cent per annum from January 2003 until date of judgment/award. Thereafter, interest at the rate of 10 per cent per annum until all excess payments and interest thereon are refunded.

The appellants include, among others, Continental Re-Insurance Plc, Industrial and General Insurance Plc, Royal Exchange Assurance Nig. Plc, International Energy Insurance Plc, Lasaco Assurance Plc., ADIC Insurance Ltd; and Standard Alliance Assurance Company Ltd.

In his ruling, the Chairman of the Tribunal, Nnamdi Ibegbu, adjourned the case to December 4 for hearing.


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