The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has urged taxpayers, especially those in Rivers State to continue to pay their Value Added Tax (VAT) to it to avoid paying penalties for failure to do so.
Abdullahi Ahmad, Director, Communications and Liaison Department of the FIRS, gave the advice in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how emboldened by a recent judgement of the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt, the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, on Thursday, signed into law a bill which authorises the Rivers State Government to henceforth collect Value Added Tax (VAT) in the state.
Besides VAT, the court had ruled that Rivers State Government, and not the agent of the Federal Government – FIRS– was authorised by the Nigerian Constitution to collect personal income tax in the state.
It may be too early to draw conclusion on the implications of this development, as FIRS has appealed the judgement
But the FIRS official said the agency decided to issue the directive following numerous enquiries in the aftermath of the recent judgment.
The FIRS spokesperson explained that since the organisation had already appealed the judgment, in which it sought a stay of execution order and that the status quo ante should subsist on VAT collection.
He said taxpayers should continue to pay their VAT to the FIRS.
“The attention of the FIRS has been drawn to the trending report that on 19/08/2021, the Government of Rivers State took steps to enact a Value Added Tax Law for Rivers State following the Judgment of the Federal High Court Port Harcourt Division on August 9, 2021 in Suit No: CS/149/2020.
“The suit was about who has the constitutional duty for the collection of VAT and Personal income tax in Rivers State.
“We wish to inform the general public that before the above-mentioned steps taken by the Government of Rivers State, FIRS had lodged an appeal against the above judgment and had also filed an application for stay of execution of the judgment as well asking the court for an injunction pending the determination of the appeal.
“All parties to the suit are aware that both applications were heard on the 19th and 20th August 2021 and are awaiting the decision of the court.
“Given that the Court of Appeal is yet to rule on the Appeal from the Judgment of Federal High Court and that the Federal High Court is yet to deliver a ruling on FIRS’s applications for stay of execution and injunction” he explained.
Mr Ahmad urged the public to continue to comply with their VAT obligations “until the matter is resolved by the appellate court.” (NAN)