Legal View

MTN Nigeria tax bill case gets a new court date

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MTN Nigeria's tax battle with the country's attorney general of the federation (AGF) is planned to be heard on 26 June, after the Federal High Court ruled to dismiss the application filed by the AGF in response to the lawsuit..

The Nigerian attorney general is demanding $2 billion (R29 billion) in taxes relating to the importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers since 2008.

The hearing was first scheduled for 8 November 2018, then moved to 3 December and then 7 February 2019, and then to 26 March 2019. MTN was handed the tax bill last September; however, it previously said the attorney general had exceeded his powers in making the demand.

In a statement, MTN says the court rejected the AGF's Notice of Preliminary Objection.

MTN took legal action after receiving a demand notice from the AGF alleging unpaid duties and taxes between 2007 and 2017, notes the statement. Their suit challenges the authority of the AG to deal with issues around tax and custom duties.

Further, according to the law, oversight for this is the responsibility of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Nigerian Customs Service, the statement reads.

"The court heard arguments on the AGF's preliminary objection on March 26, 2019. At the time, the AGF requested that MTN's suit be dismissed because it was not filed within the appropriate time frame, which the AGF asserted was within three months of receipt of the initial request for a self-assessment. Having considered the matter, the judge determined that MTN's suit was not statute-barred, as the company was only required to file its case within 3 months of receipt of the actual demand notice, which it did.

"It is important to note that even if the court ultimately rules that the AGF is within its rights to assess taxes and duties, it does not imply that the assessment that has been made is legitimate.

"MTN maintains that it is fully compliant with Nigerian tax laws. The company remains committed to meeting its fiscal responsibilities, and to contributing to the social and economic development of Nigeria."

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