VAT collection: While Lagos waits, Oyo applies to join Rivers in FIRS appeal

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The Oyo state government has filed an application before the court of appeal in Abuja to join in the suit between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Rivers state government.

A federal high court in Port Harcourt had issued an order restraining the FIRS from collecting VAT and personal income tax (PIT) in Rivers state.Although the federal tax authority had appealed for a stay of execution, the court dismissed it on the basis that it would “negate the principle of equity”.Consequently, FIRS went to the court of appeal.

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On September 10, the Lagos state government through its attorney-general, Moyosore Onigbanjo, applied to be joined as a party in the appeal. The state had also passed a VAT bill into law.While all parties in the suit were ordered to maintain status quo, the appellate court reserved ruling in the application filed by Lagos state.Rivers is challenging the directive of the appeal court at the supreme court. The state asked the apex court to order that the substantive appeal by the FIRS, marked CA/PH/282/2021, and all other processes therein, be heard and determined by a new panel of the court of appeal.

In a fresh application filed on September 27, Oyo state government is also seeking “an order of the honourable court joining the attorney-general of Oyo state as a respondent on the appeal with suit number FHC/PH/CS/149/2020 and appeal number CA/PH/282/2021, and any other order the court may deem fit.”The state attorney-general submitted that Oyo state was “unaware of the suit between the attorney-general of Rivers state and the Federal Inland Revenue Service at the federal high court until the judgement was delivered.”“Since the delivery of the judgement of the lower court on 9 August 2021, several states including the applicant (Oyo state) have made attempts to enact their respective VAT Laws in compliance with the said decision of the federal high court,” the affidavit stated.“Oyo state being one of the 36 states of the federation will no doubt be affected by the decision of this honourable court.

“The applicant has an interest in the subject matter of the appeal. This application will avoid a multiplicity of suits by States in respect of the appropriate party for the purpose of collection of the Tax.“We, therefore, urge the honourable court to resolve the sole issue raised in this application in favour of the Applicant and hold that the Applicant is a proper, desirable and necessary party to be joined in this appeal.”No date has been fixed to hear the application.

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